In his last mid-week press conference as Seattle's coach, Mike Holmgren was given the Horrigan Award, which he won last year from the Pro Football Writers Association for his contributions to the media. In short, the guy has been great to work with from a media perspective, and he was recognized as such last year -- something that he always joked was long overdue.
A great deal of the news conference was in reference to what he will miss, what he won't miss and his future. Most of the stuff was predictable in terms of being in the locker room and his relationships with players and coaches. He said he would spend about 10 days to a week in Seattle closing down his affairs here, and then will head to Phoenix for a good long time. He is going to spend the summer at their "little cabin" in California. He has not finalized travel plans but he and Kathy plan on doing some traveling.
I asked him if he follows what is going on in the league in regards to his own situation. He said he does, but he is not making decisions based on what might or might not happen in the future. He is going to take some time, he said, see how he reacts to being off the alarm clock for the first time in 40 years, and go from there. He said he has definitely pinpointed some areas of the country where he won't coach/GM/reside as president because of location, though he did not want to elaborate on where those teams are located.
He has never really voiced this, though it was pretty widely known, but he finally said why he has given Mo Morris the chance he has. He talked about how loyal Morris has been through the years, how he never complained even though he had every right to, and how much affection he felt for a guy with that attitude and demeanor. He said he did some research into Mo's background and found out he came from a big family and just really took a liking to him. It is for that reason that Holmgren has been so loyal to him this year. He said don't read into this decision that Julius Jones has had a bad year or is not a good player. It has everything to do with Morris.
I asked Holmgren about the Mare-Coutu dynamic. He said the decision-makers are going to have to make a decision next year. Mare's performance has warranted him getting a job, but Holmgren also knows that contracts and money play a factor in decision-making. He said he understood why they kept two kickers this year, with the uncertainty about Mare's health, but he said it is not really a viable situation on a year-to-year basis, particularly when one of the kickers is not doing anything.
D.D. Lewis will not play this week, and neither will Leroy Hill. Matt Hasselbeck will serve as the third quarterback. Jordan Babineaux will play. Holmgren essentially admitted that he knew all along that Hasselbeck was not going to play again. He said he came to terms a long time ago that he and Matt were not going to go after a victory together again, so this ending after everything they have been through together is not really anti-climactic.
Holmgren did say he thought Hasselbeck was going to have his best seasons ahead of him. He said he expects him to return to full health and that he still is in the prime of his career.