BEREA, Ohio — Mike Holmgren said the only thing he knows for sure about his future is that Friday will be his last day with the Cleveland Browns.
“I’ve already passed the baton,” Holmgren said Monday in a brief appearance in the team’s media room.
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He called reports that he would be interested in coaching the Dallas Cowboys if Jason Garrett were fired a “misstatement,” and said he would ponder his future after he gets to his home in Phoenix on Saturday.
“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know if I’m going to go back to work immediately or not,” Holmgren said. “And I don’t know if it’ll be in football.”
He said he and his wife Kathy have talked about working for non-profits, and that remains a possibility, but he also said it was “very, very difficult” to watch games in Cleveland and not be on the sideline.
Holmgren signed a five-year deal to be the Browns president in December of 2009, and leaves with two years remaining. New owner Jimmy Haslam hired Joe Banner to be the team’s CEO, and Haslam said he reached an agreement with Holmgren on the remainder of his deal.
Holmgren said there is nothing in the agreement that would preclude him from coaching another team, and Banner said Holmgren “is free to do what he wants next in this field, whatever he’d like to do.”
Which means the Browns did not put anything in Holmgren’s agreement requiring compensation if Holmgren coaches in 2013.
Banner was effusive in his praise of Holmgren, calling him a “great icon” and saying his advice and input in the past month or so were “though-provoking” and “incredibly valuable.”
“I’m really appreciative of the time we had together,” Banner said. “I think it helped me.”
Holmgren said he understood that his pregame, on-field meeting with Jerry Jones in Dallas prior to the Browns loss there caused a bit of a stir. Holmgren said he phoned Jones and apologized if meeting with him would cause a stir, and Jones insisted on the two saying hello.
“He said, every time we played each other we had always said hello,” Holmgren said.
Banner said the tete-a-tete had nothing to do with Holmgren’s departure.
“I put a lot of weight on his helpful insight,” Banner said.
As for the idea of coaching Dallas after twice not taking the chance to coach the Browns, Holmgren said he would not look back.
“I made the decision I wasn’t going to do that here,” Holmgren said of being hired by former owner Randy Lerner to be the team’s president. “I learned that it was very, very difficult for me to watch. If ever something comes through down the line, I just finished telling you that I don’t know.”
Holmgren repeated many of the themes he’s stated since Jimmy Haslam made it known he would not be staying. He loved Cleveland, he did his best and he greatly appreciates the fans.
“I’m very very thankful,” he said, “that I got the opportunity to do this.”
He said he “didn’t know” when asked if the premature and sudden ending in Cleveland might spur him to be more likely to coach again to ensure he goes out on a better note.
“You’re building and it ends rather abruptly,” Holmgren said, “but I’m also a big boy and I understand this business and whatever happened happened.”
His bottom line on the future?
“As of right now,” he said, “I really haven’t given it much thought, other than the fact there are no plans.”