A short trip back to the Jurassic Period yielded a marvelous interview with the articulate and insightful Tyrannosaurus Mike.
Going back in time is a great way to gather perspective, especially when talking to someone who’s pretty much seen it all.
As the coach who led the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance after the 2005 season, and coached 34 career postseason games as head coach and assistant, Mike Holmgren can offer analysis that remains relevant and current.
But he likes to preface his comments with: “I’m a dinosaur, we all know that.”
By that he confesses an old-school ethos that includes an abiding respect for the game and those who play and coach it.
After working in the front office of the Cleveland Browns, Holmgren returned to the Seattle area and now offers commentary on a series of shows on KJR 950-AM, which hosted a small media gathering with Holmgren on Monday morning.
He made it clear that he now views the game as a fan, and more specifically, a fan of the Seahawks.
Although he grew up in San Francisco and was an assistant with the 49ers from 1986-91, he has no divided loyalties as the Seahawks prepare to play host to the blood-rival Niners on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field.
“I’m pulling for the Seahawks,” he stressed. “I’m happy the 49ers are in because those are the two best teams. I think it’s the best game; there’s a lot of good stories, it should be a really good week.”
Holmgren said he didn’t sense the level of excitement for his 2005 team that he sees for this year’s Seahawks.
“Maybe that’s because I never got out of the building during the week,” he said. “You’re aware of the fans and aware of the excitement in the city, but now, you’re really aware. I go places and everybody’s wearing jerseys, everybody’s thinking about it. When you’re coaching, you’re not aware, you’re in your cave.”
Wait, is he a dinosaur or a cave man?
Holmgren begged off only one issue. He did not want to compare his ’05 team to this year’s group.
“I’m emotionally attached to those guys,” he said. “I love those players and coaches, and they accomplished a great deal that year.”
One of Holmgren’s prime reputations is as a developer of quarterbacks, having coached Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck. So it is with considerable cachet that he offers unreserved praise for the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
“I absolutely think he’s the most valuable player on a team full of fine players,” Holmgren said. “He’s young, his best years are still ahead of him. To see that type of maturity from a young man like that is really special. That kind of leadership ... he’s a natural.”
Finding Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft set the Seahawks on the course to success, Holmgren said.
“You’ve answered the No. 1 question every franchise in the league has — who’s going to play quarterback? Where’s our franchise quarterback? Who’s going to lead us?,” Holmgren said. “Everyone’s looking, and they found one. And he’s in his second year. Lord willing, he’s got 15 more years of playoffs and potential Super Bowls ... it’s great.”
Holmgren has visited the Seahawks headquarters a time or two and watched practice. And he will offer one comparison: “It looks like they have more fun than my teams,” he said. “The music going, they’re jumping around, dancing. They do stuff ... I thought if I ever saw that happening I’d think they’re not concentrating on what I want them to concentrate on.”
The game has changed in ways he doesn’t appreciate, though, and it’s when he sees personal fouls, unsportsmanlike behavior and taunting that he sometimes just turns off the television.
“It’s one of my pet peeves that drives me nuts,” Holmgren said. “You respect the game. It’s our livelihood, it’s what we do, paying the bills. It’s a great game, respect the game as a player and coach and respect your opponent. He’s out there fighting just like you are. Do you compete like crazy? Absolutely, you go after it with your last breath. But I’m bothered by a lot of the stuff I’m seeing.”
To receivers feeling the need to signal first down whenever they make a catch, he has an instruction: “Get back in the huddle.”
He apologized for the “soap box” oratory, and said he hopes that the rivalry between the Seahawks and 49ers will result in a great game without the extraneous goading and sparring.
“You’ve got two teams that don’t care for each other; I assume you’ve got two (head) coaches who don’t care for each other much,” Holmgren said. “But you’ve got two really fine football teams, and it should be a wonderful game to watch. (So) play football, play to the best of your ability.”
Because anything less is acting like a cave man.