Ravens 2nd stop for Pack coach

Holmgren to meet Saturday with Modell, decide by next week

January 06, 1999|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Baltimore will be the second stop on a three-city tour for Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren within the next seven days, and his agent confirmed last night that no decision will be made until next Tuesday after all the visits are completed.

Bob LaMonte, Holmgren's agent, said that his client, who wants to become a head coach/general manager, will fly to Seattle today and meet with the Seahawks tomorrow. Holmgren, 50, then will travel to Baltimore on Friday night, meet with Ravens owner Art Modell and his front-office staff all day Saturday and leave for Philadelphia by noon Sunday.

Privately, Ravens officials -- having been burned before -- were concerned that Holmgren wouldn't be available after he was courted by Seahawks billionaire owner Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.

The Ravens were interested in George Seifert a week ago, but after one visit to Carolina, the former San Francisco 49ers coach signed with the Panthers. When the Ravens wanted to sign free-agent wide receiver Yancey Thigpen last off-season, Thigpen never made it here, either, after one stop in Tennessee.

But LaMonte said last night that these opportunities are more about family than money. Holmgren, a San Francisco native, reportedly is tired of living in the Midwest, where he has coached the past seven years, and is willing to make a change along with wife Kathy and youngest daughter Gretch en, both of whom will accompany him to Baltimore this weekend.

"There was speculation that he had a deal done in San Francisco, and one done in Cleveland," LaMonte said. "It's all untrue. Mike plans on visiting all three cities that got permission to speak with him, and that's it. I don't know where these money figures are coming from, but we suspect the money will be phenomenal. But even more important is the impact it will have on his family.

"That's why they [wife and daughter] are coming with him. They want to take a look at the community, area churches, the school systems and possibly look at a place where his daughter can attend college. Mike's family isn't glitzy, but they are cultured. He turned down jobs from Phoenix and the Jets because the family didn't want to go. He'll go visit all three cities and make a decision by Tuesday."

The rumors and speculation about Holmgren and Seattle were swirling yesterday. One published report had Holmgren being offered a five-year deal worth $4.2 million per season. According to the report, the deal was pending on the amount of control he would have within the organization and that it had to be completed within the next 48 hours.

Holmgren and Seattle officials denied yesterday that any offers had been made. The Seahawks were interviewing Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett yesterday and Haslett was tentatively scheduled to fly into Baltimore tonight. But a Ravens source said Haslett probably will interview here Friday before Holmgren arrives.

"I can't believe I have that many sources close to me. I don't have that many friends," Holmgren said in response to the rumors. "Let's just put the brakes on a little bit. There is no deal done. We finished our season Sunday, and the clubs just started contacting the Packers [Monday]."

"I'm flattered to have teams interested; now I have to find out which is the right place," said Holmgren, who has a year left on his contract but can use an escape clause before Jan. 25 to be a coach/GM with another team. "I'm just trying to be as fair as possible. I'm not trying to leverage anybody, but it will have to be the right job and the right situation for me. The owner has to have a strong commitment to winning."

Holmgren would give the Ravens instant credibility. In seven years with the Packers, he has an 84-42 record, six straight postseason berths and a 1-1 mark in the Super Bowl. He also spent six years with the 49ers as an assistant.

The Packers have offered him a contract extension at $3 million a year, a price the Ravens are willing to meet. But a team as well as a league source said the Ravens will not bid more than $4 million a year. Seifert, Denver's Mike Shanahan and the Jets' Bill Parcells are the NFL's highest-paid coaches, averaging about $2.5 million a year.

Any team that signs Holmgren will also have to give Green Bay a second-round draft pick.

The Ravens are willing to let Holmgren have total control of the team's football operations, something he doesn't have in Green Bay under GM Ron Wolf. Holmgren has asked for an extensive, one-on-one meeting with Modell during his visit.

The Seahawks seem to have more talent on their roster than the Ravens and have better training facilities. Seattle also is a lot closer to San Francisco than Baltimore. But the Ravens have a new stadium and a solid nucleus of players as well.

"I've always wanted to extend myself, to push and challenge myself, to go to the utmost limit," Holmgren said. "Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells and Dan Reeves are doing it and doing it well. They have their own formulas, I have to develop mine."

Holmgren, Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick, Jacksonville offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and Haslett are finalists for the Ravens' job. Haslett confirmed last night that he probably will interview here Friday.

Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham, Jacksonville defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and former Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas are also being considered by the Ravens.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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