|Seahawks give Holmgren rare game ball for 150th win|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 05 October 2007 12:35|
Immediately after practice, the Seattle coach gathered his players in a circle on the field. He reached into a cardboard box, looked at the names on the freshly painted footballs. He then handed out one game ball each to the player on offense, defense and special teams that teammates had voted as most valuable to their latest victory.
But this time, Holmgren found a special, fourth ball - for him. It followed his 150th regular-season win, the most among active coaches in the NFL.
``Those surprise suckers. They really set me up,'' Holmgren said, obviously appreciative.
The ball will join the display in his office of the few game balls Holmgren has received during his 22 years coaching in the league - 16 as head man in Green Bay and, since 1999, Seattle.
``It's special. One, it means I'm old,'' said the 59-year-old grandfather, whose record in the regular season is 150-93 (.617) entering Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.
``It's pretty neat. I take a lot of pride in giving out the game balls to the players. I want them to believe it's special, it is. This is just a lot of great players, a lot of hard work from assistant coaches.''
Holmgren, whose 162 victories in the regular season and playoffs is two behind Joe Gibbs for the league's active coaching lead, is in the first year of a two-year contract extension he signed soon after the Seahawks lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl 20 months ago. He was to earn $7 million for last season, before the contract was redone.
If he fulfills the new deal through 2008 - and he said he intends to - Holmgren will have coached Seattle for 10 seasons. The only NFL coaches with longer current tenures are Denver's Mike Shanahan and Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, both of whom are in their 13th full seasons.
This week, Holmgren was asked if he envies the new life of Bill Cowher, his good friend and former Steelers coach. Cowher is spending a lot of time home with his family and golfing and is an analyst for CBS TV on Sundays.
``Not yet,'' Holmgren said, smiling.
He has longtime wife Kathy, four daughters, granddaughters, too - not to mention vacation homes in Arizona and Northern California - plus many millions already earned. So why still coach?
``I really enjoy the players, for the most part,'' Holmgren said. ``I like the camaraderie with my coaches. It's something I've done for a long time, either as a player or a coach. I enjoy the chess game, the mental preparation.
``I'm lucky. I'm very lucky to have a job that I enjoy coming to work. When that fire, whatever you want to label it, diminishes just a little bit then you know it's time to step aside - but I still like it a lot.''