Mike Holmgren

Mike Holmgren

Candid head and shoulders photograph of Holmgren wearing a green jacket over a white shirt

Holmgren in 2004
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1948-06-15) June 15, 1948
Place of birth: San Francisco, California
Career information
High school: San Francisco (CA) Lincoln
College: Southern California
NFL Draft: 1970 / Round: 8 / Pick: 201
Career history
As coach:
As executive:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season: 161–111 (.592)
Postseason: 13–11 (.542)
Career: 174–122 (.588)
Coaching stats at PFR

Michael George Holmgren (born June 15, 1948) is a former American football coach and executive, most recently serving as president of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL). Holmgren began his NFL career as a quarterbacks' coach and later as an offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, where they won Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV. He served as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to 1998, appearing in two Super Bowls, and of the Seattle Seahawks from 1999 to 2008. Prior to his career in the NFL, Holmgren coached football at the high school and collegiate levels.

Holmgren is noted for his role in molding quarterbacks such as Steve Young, Brett Favre, and Matt Hasselbeck during his tenures in San Francisco, Green Bay, and Seattle, respectively. Joe Montana won his two MVP awards under the direction of Holmgren in 1989 and 1990. Under Holmgren's leadership and play-calling the Green Bay Packers were consistent winners and never had a losing season. He was considered by many fellow coaches and players around the league as one of the best coaches in the NFL, during his time in Green Bay and Seattle in particular. He led the Packers to their 12th league championship in Super Bowl XXXI in a 35-21 win over the New England Patriots. Under Holmgren the Seahawks also became a frequent playoff team, including five division titles and the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance in 2005. As president of the Cleveland Browns, Holmgren failed to improve the team, which had a record of 5–11 the season before his arrival, and 14–34 in the seasons since. Despite Holmgren's reputation as a quarterback guru, the Browns fielded three opening-day starters in his three years with the team. In the face of much criticism in the media of his tenure, Holmgren was released by the Browns in November, 2012.


Playing career

Holmgren started out as a tight end before becoming a standout quarterback at San Francisco's Abraham Lincoln High School where he was named "Prep Athlete of the Year" in 1965 and graduated in 1966. He continued his playing career as a quarterback at the University of Southern California from 1966 to 1969. As a sophomore he was on USC's national championship team of 1967, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1970. He played behind starter Steve Sogge in 1967 and 1968. A knee injury put him behind sophomore Jimmy Jones in 1969. Although a back-up, Holmgren was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth round (201st overall) of the 1970 NFL Draft and went to camp with both the Cardinals and the New York Jets that year.

Coaching career

High school

Holmgren's coaching career began in 1971 at his alma mater, Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, where he also taught history. One year later, he moved to San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory as a teacher and assistant coach. He also coached at Oak Grove High School in San Jose, California, from 1975 to 1980 and won one Central Coast Section championship.[1]


In 1981 Holmgren became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco State Gators, working for Vic Rowen.

From 1982 to 1985, Holmgren was the quarterbacks coach at Brigham Young University under LaVell Edwards. During his four-year tenure at BYU, Holmgren not only helped coach the team's potent offense to a national championship in 1984, but in that period mentored and developed two of BYU's future NFL quarterbacks, Steve Young and Robbie Bosco, and one future NFL head coach, Andy Reid.

Bosco would make it to Green Bay several years before Holmgren, but Holmgren's eventual appointment as Packers head coach would bring him back into contact with Andy Reid and Steve Young.

Under Holmgren, Bosco led the Cougars to a national championship in 1984, finished third in Heisman Trophy balloting and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1985. Bosco's NFL career was cut short by an arm injury, and he returned to BYU as a quarterbacks coach.

In addition to mentoring quarterbacks at BYU, Holmgren also worked with Reid, at the time a graduate assistant. Reid went on to become an offensive line coach at Holmgren's previous school, San Francisco State, and in 1992 rejoined Holmgren in Green Bay as offensive assistant coach. In 1998 Reid became quarterbacks coach and assistant coach, then in 1999 was named head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Professional football (NFL)

San Francisco 49ers, 19861991

Holmgren began his NFL coaching career as an assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 1986 to 1991. He coached the 49ers’ quarterbacks from 1986–1988 under head coach Bill Walsh, working with Steve Young, whom he also coached at BYU, and Joe Montana. When George Seifert took over as head coach, Holmgren became the team's offensive coordinator and served from 1989 to 1991. In this stretch, Joe Montana won his two MVP awards and had his best season in 1989. During his tenure with San Francisco, the 49ers posted a 71-23-1 (74.7%) regular season record to reach the postseason each year except 1991. San Francisco won Super Bowl XXIII over the Cincinnati Bengals 20-16 and Super Bowl XXIV over the Denver Broncos 55-10, setting records for most points, most offensive points, and margin of victory in a Super Bowl. As offensive coordinator in 1989, Holmgren's 49er offense was ranked number one in the NFL. His years with the 49ers have led to later success mentoring other young assistants and Holmgren is one of the larger branches of the Sid Gillman coaching tree, from which Walsh and Seifert descended.

Green Bay Packers, 19921998
Holmgren in a 1998 game

Holmgren was head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to 1998, which became one of the most successful coaching stints in NFL history. As head coach of the Packers, Holmgren posted a 75370 (67.0%) regular-season record, a 95 (64.3%) postseason mark, and two Super Bowl appearances, including a 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. By winning at least one game in five consecutive postseasons (19931997) Holmgren joined John Madden (19731977) as the only coaches in league history to accomplish the feat. Holmgren's Packers posted an NFL-best 4816 (75.0%) record, finished first in the NFC Central Division three times, second once, and set a 73 mark in the playoffs between 1995 and 1998. By taking the Packers to six consecutive postseasons (19931998), Holmgren set a franchise record with a team that had had just two winning seasons in the 19 years before he was hired. Holmgren is well known for molding quarterback Brett Favre from a wild gun slinger to a three time MVP from 1995–1997.

Many of Holmgren's 1992 coaches, including Andy Reid, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron, Ray Rhodes and Jon Gruden, would go on to head coaching careers in the NFL. Marty Mornhinweg, an assistant hired later in Holmgren's tenure at Green Bay, also became an NFL head coach, and was previously an offensive coordinator under Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2006 to 2012.

Seattle Seahawks, 19992008

Holmgren resigned from the Green Bay Packers after the 1998 season to accept an eight-year head coach contract offered by the Seattle Seahawks. Originally, Holmgren was the Executive Vice President/General Manager and Head Coach of the Seahawks. Following the 2002 season, Holmgren was terminated as Seahawks General Manager.

Holmgren took the Seahawks to their first postseason since 1988 during his first season with the club in 1999, breaking a 10-year playoff drought. Holmgren posted a 72-56 (56.3%) regular-season record and a 4-6 postseason record, including an AFC West Division title (1999), one NFC Wildcard berth (2003), four consecutive NFC West Division titles (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007), an NFC championship (2005), and the Seahawks' first-ever berth in a Super Bowl.

Holmgren's (and the Seahawks' until they won the Super Bowl in 2013) best season to date was 2005. The team posted the best regular-season 13-3 (81.3%) record in franchise history, set a team record 11 consecutive wins, and won their first playoff game since 1984. Holmgren also molded former Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck into a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl quarterback in the 2005 NFL season (much as he did with Favre in the 1990s), and coached Shaun Alexander to the NFL's MVP, a 2005 rushing title, and an NFL record 28 touchdowns in a single season.

With the 2005 NFC Championship win, Holmgren became the fifth member of a small coaching fraternity that has taken two different NFL franchises to the Super Bowl, joining Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Don Shula, Dick Vermeil, and John Fox. Had the Seahawks won Super Bowl XL, he would have become the first head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with two different franchises, however they fell short, losing 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On January 22, 2008, Holmgren announced he would serve out the remaining year of his contract with a lame duck year and end his tenure as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2008 NFL season.[2] Jim L. Mora, the defensive backs coach, succeeded Holmgren upon his departure.

On December 19, 2008, Holmgren received the Steve Largent award, becoming the first coach in Seahawks history to attain the accolade.[3]

Post-coaching career

On February 1, 2009, Holmgren served as an analyst for NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLIII. Since 2012, Holmgren has served as an analyst for Seattle Sports station KJR 950AM.

Cleveland Browns (20102012)

On December 21, 2009, Holmgren accepted the job to be president of the Cleveland Browns.[4][5] On January 3, 2011, Holmgren fired Browns coach Eric Mangini after a disappointing 5-11 record. On October 16, 2012, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced that Holmgren would leave the team at the end of the 2012 season.[6]

Head coaching record

     NFL Champions
Team Year Regular season Post-season
WonLostTiesWin %Finish Won Lost Win % Result
GNB1992 970.5632nd in NFC Central - - - -
GNB1993 970.5633rd in NFC Central11.500Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Divisional Game.
GNB1994 970.5632nd in NFC Central11.500Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Divisional Game.
GNB1995 1150.6881st in NFC Central21.667Lost to Dallas Cowboys in NFC Championship Game.
GNB1996 1330.8131st in NFC Central301.000Won against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
GNB1997 1330.8131st in NFC Central 21.667Lost to Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII.
GNB1998 1150.6882nd in NFC Central 01.000Lost to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Wild-Card Game.
GNB Total75370.67095.643
SEA1999 970.5631st in AFC West01.000Lost to Miami Dolphins in AFC Wild-Card Game.
SEA2000 6100.3754th in AFC West - - - -
SEA2001 970.5632nd in AFC West - - - -
SEA2002 790.4383rd in NFC West - - - -
SEA2003 1060.6252nd in NFC West010.000Lost to Green Bay Packers in NFC Wild-Card Game.
SEA2004 970.5631st in NFC West010.000Lost to St. Louis Rams in NFC Wild-Card Game
SEA2005 1330.8131st in NFC West210.667Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
SEA2006 970.5631st in NFC West110.500Lost to Chicago Bears in NFC Divisional Game.
SEA2007 1060.6251st in NFC West110.500 Lost to Green Bay Packers in NFC Divisional Game.
SEA2008 4120.2503rd in NFC West - - - -
SEA Total86740.54146.400

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Holmgren has served: Bill Walsh, George Seifert

Assistant coaches under Mike Holmgren who have become NFL head coaches: Jon Gruden, Marty Mornhinweg, Mike Sherman, Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur, Dick Jauron, Jim Zorn, Steve Mariucci and Ray Rhodes.

Personal life

Holmgren and his wife, Kathy, met at age 12 and have been married since June 15, 1971; they married on his birthday so he would not forget the date. Holmgren first proposed marriage to Kathy when he was age 15, to which she replied: "Nope." They have four daughters — twins Calla and Jenny (born 1973), Emily (1977), and Gretchen (1981). They also have four granddaughters — Emma, Emerson, Mary and Isabell, and three grandsons — Luke, Michael, and Samuel.

The Holmgren family is heavily involved in the Evangelical Covenant Church and the denomination's North Park University, in Chicago. In 2004, they led the fundraising drive to build the university's Holmgren Athletic Complex.

Holmgren's grandfather, Jens Bugge,[7] who served briefly as a commandant at West Point and wrote a book on military strategy, also had the distinction of being eulogized by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.[8][9] Both of Holmgren's parents were officers in the Salvation Army.

Holmgren is a brother in the Sigma Chi fraternity.

"Holmgren Way" is a street named for the coach and is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

See also


  1. CCS Football Champions Year-By-Year
  2. "NFL News, Videos, Scores, Teams, Standings, Stats – FOX Sports on MSN". Msn.foxsports.com. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  3. Williams, Eric. (2008, December 19). Friday practice -- Holmgren receives Largent award. thenewstribune.com. Retrieved December 21st, 2008 from http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/2008/12/19/friday_practice_holmgren_receives_largen
  4. John Froschauer/Associated Press. "Mike Holmgren accepts team president role with Cleveland Browns". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  5. "Holmgren agrees to join Browns as team president – NFL.com". National Football League. 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  6. Josh Gordon. "Mike Holmgren to exit at the end of Browns season". National Football League. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  7. "COLONEL JENS BUGGE.; West Point Official Dies After Service Overseas". The New York Times. July 18, 1919. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  8. Bishop, Greg (December 21, 2008). "Seahawks' Holmgren, a Football Lifer, Ponders Life After Football". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  9. http://www.northpark.edu/campusdevelopment/past/holmgren/
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