Mike Holmgren sees this week's firings of Scott Linehan by the Rams and Lane Kiffin by the Raiders, and he sighs.
``It's tough. I hate to see anybody let go at this stage of the season. It is pretty early,'' he said.
The Seahawks coach, the NFL's leader among active coaches with 171 victories, is glad he's a 60-year-old in his final season, an exit he is controlling. It sure beats being a 30- or 40-something just starting out in these days of multimillion dollar contracts, instant news and expectations, rumors and pressure from all sides.
When Bill Walsh brought Holmgren from BYU into the NFL in 1986 to be his quarterbacks coach with the 49ers, there was no Internet - at least not as we know it today. And a million dollars? For players, not coaches.
``I think probably that part of it has changed. There's a little less patience for a coach. The money's bigger. The stadiums are bigger,'' said Holmgren, who is finishing the two-year extension he signed soon after the Seahawks lost in the 2006 Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.
That was at the end of a deal that was paying him about $7 million per season.
kes got higher, and the life span of coaches began to shrink along with owners' patience, in 1996. Carolina went 12-4 in its second year of existence and made it to the NFC title game before losing to Holmgren's Green Bay Packers.
``I always said when Carolina came in and went to the championship game with us in their second year, and then when Tom Coughlin was coaching Jacksonville, they got in the playoffs right away, they kind of changed things,'' Holmgren said. ``They were able to put a team together and challenge rather quickly. And it's not always that easy. Sometimes you have to come in and tear down and build up, and it takes some time.
``And unless you have an understanding with the front office and ownership, sometimes you don't get the chance.''
As his orchestrated ending in Seattle shows, Holmgren has a deep understanding with Seahawks owner Paul Allen.
The last time a coach had been fired this early in the season was when Oakland's Al Davis dumped Mike Shanahan after four games in 1989.
``Everyone has to understand the ground rules before you sign the papers, I think,'' Holmgren said. ``In Oakland, Mr. Davis has been the same way the whole time. If you were going in there to coach there, you certainly have to have a relationship with him because he is an active owner with how the team operates.
. But you got to go into this job with your eyes wide open. You can't be surprised by things.''
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PALMER IN COWBOY BLUE? Carson Palmer could see himself wearing a big, blue star on his helmet. He thinks a lot of other NFL players could, too.
The Bengals quarterback was excited about a chance to visit Dallas this weekend, though it was unclear whether he would be sidelined for a second consecutive game because of a sore elbow. Just being there would be an event for Palmer, who grew up in California and attended the Cowboys' training camps there.
``It's a place I've never been and I've always wanted to play,'' Palmer said. ``I've always wanted to see it. I'm excited to see the old stadium, and I'd love to see the new stadium. It looks like it'll be a number of years before we get back there.''
Palmer was a fan of the Cowboys, especially quarterback Troy Aikman and receiver Michael Irvin. He considered the Cowboys his home team because there wasn't one in the Los Angeles area.
He says he's not alone in having a special affinity for the team in Dallas.
the fan base, it just seems so large, that they have fans all over the country. It just seems like it's the big show, the Lakers of the NBA.''
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SITTING STANTON: The Detroit Lions used a second-round pick in 2007 to draft quarterback Drew Stanton, but they don't seem remotely interested in getting him ready to play in a game any time soon.
Stanton, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a knee injury, is throwing again after a thumb injury stunted the progress he seemed to be making during the preseason.
``He's just rusty a little bit,'' coach Rod Marinelli said. ``He's got to get in the groove here and get practicing football again, getting used to gripping the ball and all that stuff again.''
Stanton said he's making pain-free throws in practice, but he's not encouraged about getting a chance to take snaps with the first-string offense.
``I'll get some scout-team reps. Beyond that, probably not much,'' Stanton said. ``I'm the backup, scout-team guy. I jumped ahead of Drew (Henson).''
The Lions signed Henson when Stanton was injured and the former football-baseball phenom is on their practice squad.
Detroit (0-3) is sticking with Jon Kitna just as Marinelli did last year when the season fell apart during a second-half collapse in which the team won only one game to finish with seven victories.
e to show what he could do with the No. 1 offense in practice.
``He'll get just what we've been doing,'' Marinelli said.
In other words, not much.
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EXPRESS MEMORY: Colts coach Tony Dungy had planned to spend part of the bye weekend going to see the new football movie, ``The Express.''
He hasn't had a chance yet, but the first black coach to win a Super Bowl has every intention of watching the film that chronicles the story of former Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Dungy spoke this week about the significant contributions Davis made to the game of football, and the memories his late father shared about Davis.
``I remember my dad talking about him. I remember Jim Brown and if you're being compared to Jim Brown, that says something,'' Dungy said. ``But when you think of history and winning the Heisman Trophy, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, that's pretty special. I know my kids wouldn't even think about that, that there was a time when African-Americans weren't even considered for the Heisman Trophy. So that's always special to me. I guess I just appreciate that type of history.''
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AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Gregg Bell in Seattle, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Michael Marot in Indianapolis and Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this story.

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