Make no mistake about it. The Seahawks’ sudden “flirtation” with Mike Holmgren was all about spin.
With so many people clamoring for the Hawks to “return to their glory days” by bringing back the only coach to ever take them to the Super Bowl, the Hawks just wanted their fans to think they truly considered doing it.
So they carried out this sham of an interview, extending Holmgren an offer they knew he wouldn’t take.
And they know Holmgren is too professional to show his disappointment or publicly reveal what he thinks of the offer—whether it provided too little power or too little money or both.
Holmgren has to be disappointed; Seattle was obviously where he wanted to be.
But the Seahawks can now move on, satisfied that they have put out the PR fire that was beginning to flare up.
So why do we think it was just a PR move? Let us read between the lines in the comments made by CEO Tod Leiweke.
First line from the Seahawks’ statement: “The Seattle Seahawks announced today that discussions took place over the weekend with Mike Holmgren regarding a senior leadership position.”
Between the lines: The key words here are “senior leadership position”—an ambiguous term that omits the titles of “team president” and/or “general manager.”
Leiweke’s first comment: “Two weeks ago we announced we would use the balance of the season to conduct an audit of our football team. We believe our work will ultimately lead us to both an effective structure and leadership for the Seahawks.”
Between the lines: Leiweke was not interested in giving Holmgren sole control of the franchise. He probably offered Holmgren the nebulous position of team president, telling the one-time team boss that the franchise was still going to find a general manager who would be in charge of assembling the team’s personnel.
Leiweke’s next comment: “While that process [the internal evaluation] is ongoing, we also were aware of Mike Holmgren’s recent interview [with the Cleveland Browns] and associated time pressures and met with Mike over the weekend.”
Between the lines: What Leiweke probably meant was, “We’re really annoyed that Holmgren forced us to make a decision before the season and our evaluation are even over. So, to save face publicly, we reached out to him.”
Leiweke: “After a series of respectful discussions, Mike has declined our offer to rejoin the team given the structure we proposed.”
Between the lines: Leiweke wants everyone to think the Seahawks approached Holmgren in good faith and that he turned them down, not the other way around. Again, the structure the Seahawks proposed probably involved hiring a personnel manager who would have equal input to Holmgren, if not final say over the roster. Leiweke certainly knew Holmgren wouldn’t go for that.
Despite the spin he has put on the Holmgren situation, Leiweke has become Seahawk Enemy No. 1 for some fans who just can’t let go of the Holmgren years. Of course, those are the same people who forget that Holmgren was not a great personnel guy.
But now the Holmgren situation is resolved. He can go to Cleveland to once again be the Big Show, and the Hawks can go about finding a GM who can rebuild the parts of the team that require it.
Two former sports reporters freed from the constraints of traditional print media write about the hot topics on both the Seattle and national sports scenes. No deadlines, no word count, no press box decorum—we're Outside The Press Box.