In an interview with KJR-AM in Seattle on Thursday, Browns president Mike Holmgren said he considered a return to coaching after firing Eric Mangini in January.
Holmgren told host Dave "Softy" Mahler he talked to Browns general manager Tom Heckert and executive vice president/business operations Bryan Wiedmeier about becoming a candidate for the Browns' head-coaching job, and both were open to the idea of Holmgren potentially leaving the front office and returning to the sideline. Holmgren said owner Randy Lerner gave his approval, too.
However, after talking with his wife, Kathy, and praying, Holmgren decided against it. Holmgren, who's entering his second season with the Browns, said he realized that "I came here to do a certain job, and that's what I want to do. I want to fulfill that promise to my owner and see if I can, in another role, see if I can get the thing done."
In the interview with KJR-AM, Holmgren also talked about reaching out to former Steelers head coach and current CBS analyst Bill Cowher and former Buccaneers head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden about the Browns' head-coaching vacancy.
"In Bill's case, he wasn't ready to come back, and he was very honest about it," Holmgren said. "We had a very candid conversation.
"In Jon's case, he said he'd come back for me, but really, I said, I need a little more than that. You shouldn't just come back for me; you should want to do this. Because he really enjoys TV and he's good at it."
The Browns eventually hired Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as head coach. Holmgren said Shurmur's offensive background and knowledge of the West Coast offense were factors that made him attractive.
The way we see it
Holmgren has never completely closed the door on a return to coaching, and now we know he was contemplating a return to the sideline in 2011. In the interview with KJR-AM, Holmgren, as he has before, indicated he's committed to leading a turnaround of the Browns in his current role — but he wouldn't say he was done coaching.
"You never know for sure," he said about a return to coaching. However, he noted, "If I wanted to get back into coaching, I could have. I had that opportunity. And maybe I'd get another opportunity. Who knows? But I'm really not thinking that way. I'm really thinking, 'This is what I should be doing, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability.' I think if I think any other way, you really run the risk of not doing the best job you can do and what you've been asked to do."