BEREA, Ohio — Old habits apparently die hard for Mike Holmgren.
When the former Cleveland Browns president found himself driving by the team’s training facility Friday, he couldn’t help but stop in.
Unfortunately for Holmgren, he arrived at the start of an afternoon training camp practice — and immediately became the center of attention.
“I thought practice would be over and I was going to sneak in,” he said, chuckling. “Just sneak in and sneak out. I’m not reflecting on anything right now.”
Holmgren’s tenure running the Browns officially ended last Nov. 30 when he was replaced by new owner Jimmy Haslam III. He left the franchise under good terms — shortly after Haslam hired Joe Banner as CEO — and was paid the remainder of his five-year, $40 million contract.
Haslam embraced Holmgren during his on-field appearance, which also included visits with Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi.
“I still miss it tremendously, but that’s what it is right now,” said Holmgren, who is in Northeast Ohio to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “I’m doing a little radio thing in Seattle, so that’s fun, and just traveling a little bit and doing some things that I haven’t been able to do for a long time.”
Holmgren served as Cleveland’s president from 2010-2012 after being hired by former owner Randy Lerner. Prior to joining the Browns, he spent 17 seasons coaching the Packers and Seahawks, winning the Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1996.
Though none of his former players are being inducted Saturday, Holmgren said he wanted to make the trip to Canton in order to show respect for several longtime adversaries.
“I hope to see (Bill) Parcells and (Warren) Sapp and Cris Carter and all of those guys that I coached against all those years,” he said. “It’s quite an honor, and I’ll be able to see a lot of guys that I haven’t seen in a long time, so that’s actually what I’m here for.”
The Browns went 14-34 record during Holmgren’s three seasons. They went 5-11 under coach Eric Mangini in 2010, then posted 4-12 and 5-11 marks with Pat Shurmur at the helm.
Holmgren deflected all questions about his unsuccessful tenure in Cleveland, but did joke about the major renovations that Haslam has made to the team’s headquarters.
“My old office, the little cubbyhole I had up there, is now fancy,” he said. “That’s why I came out to say hello to Jim and Joe and Lombardi.”
Running back Trent Richardson also spent several minutes chatting with Holmgren, giving a warm hug to the man that selected him with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.
“It means a lot when I see old Holmgren, man, because he gave me a shot by picking me,” Richardson said. “When I see him anytime, it’s nothing but much love because he changed my life, he changed my family’s life. He gave me that opportunity.”
In his final press conference with the Browns, Holmgren said he was open to coaching again in the NFL.
No such opportunities became available, so he and his wife, Kathy, are spending the summer at their cabin in California. He also is working as a commentator for a Seattle sports radio station.
“I’m good,” he said. “All the kids are out with us at the cabin, and I’m one of you guys now (in the media). Life is good.”
NOTES: Richardson sat out practice after being kicked in the right shin Thursday at practice, and is listed as day-to-day. Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said he was held out for precautionary reasons, but would have played if the team had a game scheduled. … Safety T.J. Ward (hamstring), running back Montario Hardesty (hamstring), wide receiver David Nelson (knee), tight end Brad Smelley (hamstring), cornerback Trevin Wade (tightness), guard Oniel Cousins (ankle), tackle Ryan Miller (concussion), and fullback Brock Bolen (calf) also sat out the 2 1/2 hour session. … Nose tackle Phil Taylor and center Alex Mack got into a minor scrap for the second straight day. … NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and longtime NFL official Ed Hochuli also attended practice. … Haslam threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a minor league baseball game Friday. The independent Lake Erie Crushers, who play in suburban Avon, invited him as part of their Browns promotional night. … The Browns will hold their annual family night practice at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday. Cleveland’s preseason opener is Thursday at home against the St. Louis Rams.