Holmgren leaves open possibility '06 could be last year
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Still smarting a bit from his team's Super Bowl XL loss two months ago, a defeat he clearly feels was affected by some dubious officiating, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren left open the possibility the 2006 season could be his last in the league.
There were four critical calls that went against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl loss to the Steelers,
starting with offensive interference in the end zone against
Darrell Jackson in the first quarter, negating what would have been
the game's first touchdown. Replays showed that Jackson's arms made
contact with Pittsburgh safety Chris Hope before they separated --
technically pass interference, but often a "no call."
• The first touchdown came on a third-down run by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter. He appeared to come down short of the goal line, but instant replay was inconclusive, so referee Bill Leavy upheld the call of a touchdown.
• A holding call on Sean Locklear in the fourth quarter erased an 18-yard completion from Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy Stevens to the Pittsburgh 1. That would have put the Seahawks in position to go ahead 17-14 with around 12 minutes left. It was a close call that was difficult to see on replay.
• Soon after the Locklear penalty, Hasselbeck threw an interception to Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor, then made the tackle, but was called for a block below the waist, giving the Steelers an extra 15 yards. They scored soon afterward on a pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward.
The NFL later acknowledged that the call on the interception was wrong, but said the other three were legitimate.
Mike Pereira, the league's supervisor of officials, reiterated that again Wednesday, although he acknowledged the NFL is trying hard to standardize how offensive holding is called.
Pereira, not surprisingly, doesn't share Holmgren's view of postseason officiating.
"I refuse to buy into that mistakes we had in the playoffs are an indictment to the officiating system," Pereira said. "I refuse to let a few bad things unravel the whole organization."
But he also acknowledged the urgency for consistent work by his crews.
"It's a hard game to officiate and we have to continue to get better," he added. "We had some mistakes in the playoffs and we have to suffer the consequences. We have to make sure we bring our 'A' game and keep our officiating elevated."
-- The Associated Press
Holmgren, 57, is entering the final season of the eight-year contract he signed in 1999. And while owner Paul Allen indicated in the days preceding the Super Bowl that he wanted to discuss an extension with Holmgren, the future has not been determined.
"Right now I'm kind of thinking about what I want to do, honestly," said Holmgren, here for the annual league meetings. "I told [team president] Tim Ruskell that I'm not going to leave anybody hanging out to dry. As soon as I have made a decision, then he will know. And then at the same time the last thing in the whole world I want it to be is a distraction for the team next year. And it shouldn't be.
"Life goes on. But I'm still working through it in my own mind about what I'd like to do. I should have a little bit of a better handle on it in two or three weeks."
Holmgren is entering his 16th season as an NFL head coach and, in stints at Green Bay (1992-98) and Seattle (1999-present), has compiled a 147-94 record, including playoff games. He took the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning one, and led the Seahawks to their first-ever title game appearance in 2005.
His final year in Green Bay was essentially a lame-duck season, but Holmgren said that had little effect on his team and insisted it likely wouldn't make much difference in Seattle's performance on the field.
There is, Holmgren said, no timetable for determining his future, and it's possible a decision might not come until after the season.
"It could be as simple as, 'How about we go through next year and if you're happy and I'm feeling good then we'll meet.' I really don't know," Holmgren said.
There are some who felt that, had the Seahawks defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, Holmgren, a man of many interests who has spoken in the past about what he might want to do after his coaching career, might have retired.
Holmgren acknowledged such a scenario was the exit strategy his wife had in mind, but that he never thought much about it. He will, though, take some more time to consider the future, but emphasized that he will not keep Seahawks officials in the dark.
"Sometimes you just don't know," he said. "I'm not being cute, or leveraging anything, or doing anything like that. I want to be fair and I want to be honest with my bosses and certainly my owner. So I just asked them, 'Give me some time on this.' And they said that was fine."
While he would not concede that he surrendered his spot on the powerful competition committee because of grievances he had with the manner in which the Super Bowl was officiated, Holmgren strongly suggested he still had problems with some calls, terming it an "unusual" game.
"We were the lowest penalized team in football, or second [lowest], Holmgren said. "Penalties certainly hurt us in the ballgame. I was frustrated by that, yeah. I wouldn't say we got 'jobbed,' but it had a huge impact on the game."
In a homecoming celebration for the Seahawks following the Super Bowl loss, Holmgren made publicly derogatory comments about the officials, an act that typically results in league sanctions.
But commissioner Paul Tagliabue confirmed Wednesday that Holmgren will not be fined. Tagliabue said that he had a long talk with Holmgren on the subject and that, while the NFL staff had prepared a report on the remarks and that a letter levying a fine against the Seattle coach had been prepared, it was not sent.
"Sometimes the first draft of a letter is better put in the trash can than sent to the addressee," Tagliabue said.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.