Mike Holmgren was born in San Francisco in 1948 and developed into a star athlete as a teenager. His father was a semi-pro football player who schooled Mike in the game practically from birth.
As a teenager, he became the best quarterback in the state of California and was recruited to USC where injuries derailed his career.
In 1970, Holmgren was an eighth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, and played briefly with the New York Jets. He quickly realized he didn't have a future in the NFL, left the game, and became certified as a teacher.
Although he didn't realize it at the time, becoming certified as a teacher would help shape his future in the NFL in the years to come.
In 1970, he also married his childhood sweetheart, Kathy, whom he had known since he was 13-years-old.
From 1971-75, Holmgren taught mechanical drawing, history, and began his coaching career at Sacred Heart high school in San Francisco.
Although he eventually moved solely into coaching, he retained the idea that teaching was the building block of all coaching.
In 1975, Holmgren moved to Oak Grove High School in San Diego where he would coach until 1980 when he took the Offensive Coordinator position at San Francisco University.
Holmgren and his family of six were so bad off financially that they lived in a one room apartment.
Holmgren finally landed a job that paid well when he was named quarterbacks coach at Brigham Young University in 1982.
While he was there, he coached future NFL star Steve Young and college sensation Robbie Bosco to the National Championship in 1984.
Bill Walsh of the NFL's mighty San Francisco 49ers was so enamored of Holmgren's work with the two young quarterbacks that he hired Holmgren in 1985 to be his quarterbacks coach.
Although Holmgren had a relatively limited resume at the time, Walsh noted, "He had an outstanding football mind, he had excellent communication skills, he had a natural easy-going but assertive personality, and he proved to be a hands-on guy who was an excellent teacher. The consummate coach."
Holmgren was Walsh's quarterbacks coach from 1986-88, and then was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1988, a position he held until 1991.
Holmgren was grateful to be in the NFL, "[Being a high school coach before becoming an NFL coach] teaches you to appreciate a little more the things that are available on this level. When you've had to count jocks or worry about some little freshman forgetting his mouthpiece, when you've had to ride on buses … it just makes you more grateful for what we have here in the NFL."
During his tenure with the 49ers, he received head coaching offers from the New York Jets and St. Louis Cardinals that he rejected.
In 1992 the Green Bay Packers came calling with a head coaching job, and this time Holmgren felt the time and place was right to make a move and accepted the offer.
Holmgren quickly rebuilt the Packers, adding Brett Favre and Reggie White among others, and won Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. In doing so Holmgren cemented his place among the league's coaching elite.
His easy going but assertive style combined with his unique ability to teach, set Holmgren apart from the other coaches in the NFL, and made him a much desired mentor.
Andy Reid, Dick Jauron, Jon Gruden, Ray Rhodes, and Steve Mariucci are all former assistant coaches who graduated from the Holmgren School of Higher Learning and went on to head coaching jobs of their own.
In 1999 the Seattle Seahawks offered Mike Holmgren his long desired dream job combining the Head Coaching position with that of the General Manager.
In Holmgren's first season the Seahawks went 9-7, but the Seahawks went on to lose 17 of the next 25 games and Holmgren wasn't sure how to handle the losing. Players began to openly speak out
Former Seahawk Chad Brown said, "Once certain guys decided he had crossed the line and had said some things they felt weren't appropriate, they sort of shut him off."
Holmgren cut several veterans and brought in young inexperienced players and in 2002 the Seahawks went 7-9 and Holmgren resigned as General Manager.
Holmgren said resigning would free him "just a little bit from the nuts and bolts and daily grind of the general manager field and spend more time on coaching." He commented, "I just care about doing the best we can and winning some more games."
In 2005, Holmgren guided the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He became only the fifth coach in NFL history to guide two different teams to the Super Bowl.
In 2008, Holmgren announced he would resign at the end of the season.
In December of 2009, Holmgren was hired as Team President of the Cleveland Browns. He oversees all football operations and everybody reports to him.
In something of a surprise he retained Coach Eric Mangini, hired GM Tom Heckert, fired Jim Brown, forced adviser Paul Warfield to resign and personally drafted Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the third round of the NFL draft.
Mike Holmgren was born into a world that revolved around football, developed into a star athlete and teacher, and fused those worlds into a unique synergy of affability, assertiveness, and intellect.
How many other team presidents do you even know by name? He commands a room without being overbearing, charms the press, intimidates when he needs to and coaches people up when they need it.
Holmgren has adamantly refused to allow football to disrupt his family over the years. He spends every Friday night with family no matter what is going on at work. He has four daughters and says he has to raise his hand to get a word in at the dinner table.
At the end of the day, Holmgren is proud of his career and his family, "I'd like to think I have done a good job with both," he said.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!