Seahawks' Holmgren will return for final season


Before Mike Holmgren decided to return for one &

and only one &

more season coaching the Seahawks, he signed a new pact.

Not with Seattle ... with his wife.

"She's making me fill out this little contract: 'Upon completion of your last game: The laundry; the garbage; the whole deal,'" Holmgren joked Tuesday when asked what he may feel like after he fulfills the final season of a two-year contract.

What if he really does want to keep coaching beyond a 17th season as a head man in the NFL? What if he wants to keep doing what he's done every football season since 1971, when he was a history teacher and assistant coach at Lincoln High School in San Francisco?

"I've made some promises," he said of Kathy, his wife of 37 years with whom he escaped last weekend to their vacation home in Arizona to contemplate retirement.

Holmgren, nicknamed "The Big Show" when he arrived in 1999 from a Super Bowl pedigree in Green Bay to become Seattle's coach and general manager, thought about the monotonous summers of 22 NFL training camps. Of sleeping in college dorms in beds too short. Of missing "a normal kind of Christmas and Thanksgiving, the things that most people enjoy," with his family of four daughters and four granddaughters.

He and Kathy decided he would do it all one more time.

Still, the 59-year-old former quarterback at Southern California was so uneasy about that choice Tuesday morning he called his wife at her job as a nurse at a clinic in downtown Seattle, just to be sure.

"Look it, it will probably be an emotional time," he said of a 2008 season that will become a farewell tour he doesn't want. "But it is what it is.

"Kathy and I came to this decision to finish my contract. This will be my last year. We are going to work very hard to finish the job that I hoped to do when I first came, that's to get to the Super Bowl and win one. And then probably after that, I will take a little time off &

but not yet. We are going to go after it hard."

Two days after Seattle lost at Green Bay in the NFC divisional playoffs, Holmgren was asked if there was a third possibility beyond retiring or finishing the final season of his contract. He signed his extension soon after the Seahawks lost in the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh 23 months ago, at the end of a deal that was paying him about $7 million per season.

Holmgren said yes to the "longer, larger" option of another contract extension beyond 2008, but the Seahawks have never approached him about it.

Tuesday, Holmgren said his comments about an extension were overblown and "misinterpreted," that the decision was always about working one more season or retiring.

The Seahawks have a likely heir to Holmgren in place in Jim Mora.

Soon after Mora was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons on New Year's Day, 2007, Holmgren added him to the staff as the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach. Mora, 46, led Atlanta for three seasons and went to the NFC championship game in his first season there.

"The transition beyond this year should be really smooth. The organization is healthy," Holmgren said.

He didn't mention Mora by name, leaving talk of his successor "for another press conference. I won't be there."

Mora went to junior high and high school in the Seattle area while his father was an assistant at the University of Washington. Last week, as Holmgren was in Arizona contemplating his future, Mora removed himself from consideration for the vacant head coaching job with the Washington Redskins following two days of interviews.

Holmgren said Tuesday that Mora and all other defensive assistants will remain in their same roles in 2008.

Seattle won its fourth consecutive NFC West title this season and believes its window of opportunity for a Super Bowl title is still wide open with the core of the team returning next season. Five of the Seahawks' six division titles have come under Holmgren.

"I want to do this because I want to give this one more shot with this team," said Holmgren, who led the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning one at the end of the 1996 season.

Holmgren's career record is 170-110, one win behind former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs for 10th in NFL history. Holmgren is 86-68 in nine seasons with Seattle. He passed Chuck Knox this season for most victories by a Seahawks coach.

He did not rule out a return to football in 2010. Or beyond.

"Oh, I think you always have to say that's a possibility," he said, "but that's very speculative at this point."

Holmgren's final season will include changes to his coaching staff, on the offensive side.

Line coach Bill Laveroni will not be back, a move that was expected with the struggles Seattle had running effectively the last two seasons. Laveroni had been the Seahawks' line coach since 2004.

Laveroni's assistant, Keith Gilbertson is being shifted to receivers coach, after Nolan Cromwell left to become the offensive coordinator at Texas AM for new Aggies coach Mike Sherman. Offensive assistant Gary Reynolds also is joining Sherman's staff.

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