Mike Holmgren acknowledged in a recent interview that he should have coached the Cleveland Browns during his brief stint as the team's president.
Holmgren, who guided his teams to three Super Bowl appearances during his 17-year coaching career with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, failed to build a winner during his two-plus years in Cleveland.
The 65-year-old Holmgren recently told TheMMQB.com that he should have coached the Browns but that former team owner Randy Lerner was against it.
"I really just should have coached the team, but [Lerner] didn't want me to," Holmgren told the website.
Holmgren, who was hired by the Browns in December 2009, retained coach Eric Mangini for the 2010 season, when Cleveland went 5-11 for the second straight year. Holmgren replaced Mangini with Pat Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two years before being fired following the 2012 season.
"At that particular time, I wasn't ready to do it again," Holmgren told the website. "I thought I'd be shortchanging the organization."
Holmgren compiled a 161-111 career coaching record, guiding his teams to the playoffs 12 times in 17 years. The Packers won Super Bowl XXXI under Holmgren following the 1996 season and reached the Super Bowl again the following year. Holmgren also coached the Seahawks to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history following the 2005 season.
But Holmgren was not nearly as successful as an executive with the Browns, a franchise that hasn't reached the postseason since 2002 and has had six consecutive losing seasons.
Cleveland struggled to find a franchise quarterback under Holmgren, who signed aging veteran Jake Delhomme and traded for career backup Seneca Wallace in 2010, used a second-round draft pick on Colt McCoy in 2010 and used a first-round pick on Brandon Weeden in 2012.
Holmgren told TheMMQB.com that despite his failed attempts to find a quarterback, he publicly maintained his support for the players during his time in Cleveland.
"Now -- and this is very, very important -- once he's with you, you never, ever let anyone believe he's not the right guy, not the quarterback of the future," Holmgren told the website. "In the building, obviously, that's a given. But in public, too -- every time you talk about him, he's your guy."
The Browns announced that Holmgren would step down midway through the 2012 season, when Jimmy Haslam acquired ownership of the team. Since Holmgren's departure, the Browns have overhauled the front office and coaching staff twice.
Rob Chudzinski went 4-12 last year in his only season as the team's coach before being fired in December and replaced by Mike Pettine. Two months later, CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi left the team, and the Browns promoted Ray Farmer to GM.