Learning from the past


Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said he was unable to motivate his favored Green Bay team for Super Bowl XXXII in 1998. "It was very difficult for me to get my guys to believe the game would be tough," he said. The Packers lost that game to Denver, 31-24.

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Kirkland, Wash. When Mike Holmgren took the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive time, he had a dominant team.
They had finished the regular season 13-3 in 1997. They had won the previous Super Bowl. They had perhaps the best quarterback in the game in Brett Favre and the best pass rusher in Reggie White.
They had sex appeal, devoted fans spread around the country and were expected to beat the Denver Broncos. But Holmgren couldn't quite reach them before the big game.
Holmgren talked about that memory Monday, less than 24 hours after his Seattle Seahawks dismantled the Carolina Panthers, 34-14, to earn the franchise's first trip to the Super Bowl.
"It was very difficult for me to get my guys to believe the game would be tough," he said of the Super Bowl in January 1998. "I tried everything - to be nice, kicking them in the rear end. Our head wasn't right."
Green Bay lost, 31-24. The Seahawks, he said, are not in the same spot. Like his Packers then, the Seahawks finished 13-3 in the regular season and are NFC champions. But the similarities are few. Holmgren's challenge this season is to convince his players they belong in Detroit.
"Motivating them will be different," he said. "Hopefully, I learned from that game."
The coach won't have difficulty getting his players to take the Pittsburgh Steelers seriously, but he worries about the distractions.
"Some will get there and won't believe what is happening with them," Holmgren explained. "It's different."
Holmgren said his guys began to feel that Sunday night, standing on the sideline with a few minutes to go and the victory over Carolina all but secured. He let the assistant coaches who spend the game high in the press box come down to the field for the final minutes to soak it in.
On the makeshift stage set up for the trophy presentation, looking out into a still-packed stadium, Holmgren turned to league MVP Shaun Alexander and told him how special the scene was.
"He was wide-eyed," Holmgren said. Holmgren, 57, said he made a point to savor this trip more than he has in the past. It has been eight years since he was last in the Super Bowl. That time made him wonder if he would ever return and, if he did, whether he should find a more secure place in his brain to store the wild and devilish ride.
"I didn't think about it or enjoy it enough," he said of his trips with the Packers. "I made a conscious effort this time. I've enjoyed things. I've reflected. That was pretty neat last night."
Holmgren realized that before the game was even finished. He realized it when he went out to dinner with his wife and daughters, as fan after fan came over to congratulate him.
"I don't watch much football," some told him. "But this is pretty neat."
Lefty, counter-culture Seattle is smitten with football. The coach took Sunday night and most of Monday reveling in it. Game film and strategy start today.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top