The Beginning: "He's been there, he's been to the mountaintop. All the things I've been preaching, he'll do it now." -- Ricky Watters
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The Middle: I know there are a lot of you who won't join me but I'm jumping off the Mike Holmgren bandwagon. That's right. I'm bailing. -- Web Author
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The End in Sight: There's no mistaking his success in Seattle. At the time of this writing, he has just surpassed Chuck Knox as the winningest coach in Seahawks history. -- Web Author
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The Final Year: "They’re a fun group of guys and they’re very unselfish. That’s one of the reasons I came back another year." -- Mike Holmgren
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Relationships: "Everybody on the team knew he wasn't being fair with me..." -- Quarterback Jon Kitna
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Home: We love him, we hate him, we don't know if we can live without him. -- Web Author
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Mike Holmgren: Embraced? Or not?

Do you love him? Do you hate him? And no, this time I'm not talking about Brian Bosworth! This controversy is all about Mike Holmgren.

There's no mistaking his success in Seattle. At the time of this writing, he has just surpassed Chuck Knox as the winningest coach in Seahawks history. He has taken the Seahawks to 5 consecutive post-season games and 6 total in his Seahawks career, including one Super Bowl appearance. He and his family are active in the Seattle community and are well respected.

So what is the problem? The problem is ... well, now that you mention it, What is the problem??? Why is there even a problem?

For whatever reason, Seattle has not embraced Mike Holmgren. Despite his success there is a divide among fans. It's very similar to the many player controversies we have in Seattle; Shaun Alexander, for example. No one can dispute the success of Shaun Alexander on the field and in the community, yet even when he was breaking records and living the life he preached there were plenty of fans who wanted him gone. It's the same with Mike Holmgren. Let's explore it a bit.

Mike Holmgren came to Seattle under too much hype, too many expectations and too much arrogance. He came to Seattle with the hype that he was the man to finally break us free of our perpetual underachiever status. He came to Seattle as a football guru, a certain future Hall of Fame coach who knew how to take a franchise to the Super Bowl. He came to Seattle with the belief that he could do it all: Executive Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach. The expectation bar was set high, Seahawks fans believed! We had a new coach, a new owner, we were building a new stadium, and we had a renewed #12! We were going to put the Ken Behring days behind us and return to the glory days when the stadium was full, the Seahawks were full of promise, and we had something solid to believe in!

The odds were favorable when Holmgren took the helm in Seattle. He acquired an 8-8 team that barely missed the playoffs under Dennis Erickson by the now infamous Testaverde touchdown that wasn't a touchdown. Holmgren went 9-7 his first year with most of those players, winning the AFC West but losing the wild card game to the Dolphins. The Dolphins lost their next playoff game.

Sound familiar? Deja vu? The media and some fans insist upon comparing Mike Holmgren to the only benchmark the Seattle Seahawks have, that being Chuck Knox. In his first year as coach of the Seahawks, Knox led his 9-7 Seahawks to the conference championship, losing to the Raiders who went on to win the Super Bowl.

While Chuck Knox went 12-4 in the second year of his Seahawks tenure, losing the divisional playoff game to the Dolphins, Mike Holmgren went 6-10 and missed the playoffs altogether. I suspect it was then that he started to fall out of favor with the hometown crowd. He had decided in the off-season to offload many players we'd grown to love in lieu of his own players. We went through a rebuilding phase and a revolving door phase. Player after player was dismissed because of bad attitude or an uncooperative work ethic or a personal standard that was not up to par. Some of these players were fan favorites, some were quite successful on the field, some went on to have successful careers elsewhere. We all know that coaches like to bring in their own guys, and rebuilding years are tough times for players and fans. Uncertainty was in the air. We went 9-7, and then 7-9. We were back to mediocrity; the underachieving Seahawks. Always on the brink but never quite there.

In addition to the player moves, Mike Holmgren was struggling with all his hats. In 2002 he gave up his title of General Manager. I think perhaps Holmgren gained some respect in that move. It couldn't have been easy but did it with his head held high. The following year we went 10-6 and made it to the post-season, as we have every subsequent year. Holmgren was free to do what he did best - coach football.

Like his predecessor, Mike Holmgren dealt with internal conflict in the organization: Bob Whitsitt. The two men did not see eye to eye on football operations and it reflected on the field. In Chuck Knox's day, the name was Ken Behring, the owner who was described in Seattle papers as a "cheap skate" owner, an owner who came under criticism for playing favorites rather than allowing the coaching staff to bring on good people. We can all be grateful that Whitsitt didn't try to move the Seahawks to Los Angeles!

The comparisons between Knox and Holmgren continued. Chuck Knox was known for his running game and his moniker, "Ground Chuck". Newspaper articles were written comparing the running game of Mike Holmgren to Chuck Knox's, revealing very similar numbers. Let's not forget that "Ground Chuck" became "Air Knox" when Curt Warner was injured and Knox turned the game over to Dave Krieg who threw for career highs of 3,671 yards and 32 touchdowns! It's not unlike the 2007 season when our running game was so hampered that Holmgren unleashed Matt Hasselbeck!

2007 was the year in which Mike Holmgren claimed a franchise record for the most wins of any Seahawks coach, eclipsing Chuck Knox by 2 victories. Ironically, it took both coaches 9 years to accomplish that record, so evenly matched are these two men. A friend of mine said it best when he said that these two men should not be compared - both coaches brought a lot of good to Seattle along with their unforgettable moments. Knox brought winning and gave us #12, The Fan. Holmgren brought respectability and credibility back.

We should all be grateful to Mike Holmgren for coming to Seattle. He had it made in Green Bay, they'd even named a street after him! That was and always will be his legacy because he was fantastic there - a football genius. Maybe if our only Super Bowl run hadn't been laced with controversy, maybe if we hadn't suffered devastating playoff losses to Green Bay not once, but twice, maybe if he showed a bit of emotion on the sidelines, things might be different.

As I write today, Mike Holmgren is on vacation, sorting out whether or not he wants to return to the Seahawks. He's got a year left on his contract but he can't decide whether or not he wants to coach another year. He might. He might not. He doesn't know.

And that, I think, is the problem.