The Pack Recap: Mike Holmgren

Hello everyone. It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time for another edition of the Pack Recap. If you have been reading the posts, you know that we’re covering the latest renaissance in Packers history, which started in the 90’s. We’ve covered Bob Harlan and Ron Wolf so far, and today we will talk about Mike Holmgren.

Holmgren played tight end in high school before switching to quarterback, winning the 1965 Prep Athlete of the Year for Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. He played college at USC, where he was on the team that won the 1967 national championship. He was also a late round pick in the 1970 NFL draft, going to camp for the Cardinals, who drafted him, and the Jets.

Holmgren began his coaching career at his high school alma mater in 1971 and continued on that level until 1981, when accepted a job as offensive coordinator with the San Francisco State Gators. From 1982 to 1985, he was the quarterbacks coach of BYU, his first contact with both Steve Young and future assistant Andy Reid. His work at BYU paved the way for an NFL job.

Bill Walsh hired Holmgren, who stayed with the team from 1986-1991. His first couple years were as the quarterbacks coach. After Walsh retired and George Seifert became the head coach, Holmgren was promoted to offensive coordinator. It was during the stretch from 1989-91 that Joe Montana won his two league MVPs and had his greatest statistical seasons. The 49ers also won two Super Bowls in that time, setting a record for most points scored in a game under Holmgren’s direction.

On the strength of that resume, Holmgren was hired by the Packers on January 11th, 1992. Despite having no head coaching experience on the NFL or college level, Ron Wolf knew immediately that Holmgren was the man for the job. Wolf said, ”Very briefly into the interview I knew there wasn`t any sense to go farther. It was up to me to maintain my poise and not look too excited. Things meshed. I felt like I had known Mike all my life.” Holmgren felt Green Bay was the place to be, stating that they were set up for success and, “It’s important to turn it around and we will do that. We’ll talk about a timetable a little later.”

Mike Holmgren never suffered a losing season in Green Bay. He would post a 75-37 mark from 1992-98, adding a 9-5 postseason record. Under his direction, Brett Favre became a three time league MVP, the Packers became perennial Super Bowl contenders, and brought a championship back to Green Bay, 29 years after their most recent. Although they would fall short the year after, Holmgren’s Packers would be the last team to repeat as NFC champions until the Seahawks of the 2010’s.

Holmgren departed following the 1998 season, wanting to expand his role into general managing. With Seattle, Holmgren produced another highly successful run, going 90-80 with the team and guiding them to a Super Bowl appearance, though they would ultimately fall short. But despite his success in Seattle, it will always be Green Bay he is tied to. His coaching tree is expansive, and his importance to the career of several all time greats cannot be understated.

“We changed a lot of the culture in the building. And that’s easy to say — and hard to do. That probably, to me, over the course of time, will mean the most. What’s happened since 1992. As opposed to what had happened prior to 1992 for all those years. I just have to look at the stadium and walk through here. I mean it is unbelievable how things have changed. I had a little part of that — a little thing to do with that and I’ll feel good about that.”- Mike Holmgren on his Packers legacy

Contributions by:

Chicago Tribune 1-12-92

Bob McGinn for the Milwaukee Journal 1-12-92


Cliff Christl for 7-21-12

Previous Pack Recaps:

The Pack Recap: Ron Wolf

The Pack Recap

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