Is Mike Holmgren A Hall Of Fame Head Coach?

Like, literally?  IS he in the Hall of Fame right now?  No.  But, should he be, sometime in the future, when he’s eligible?

That’s what I want to look into, as my weeklong series of the Seahawks and the NFL Hall of Fame continues.

Right now, according to this website, there are 21 Head Coaches in the Hall of Fame.  I’m going to go ahead and pass on discussing the super-old guys (i.e. of the 21 coaches, I’m discounting 13 of them) and look at the Modern Era guys.  As follows:

  • Joe Gibbs:  1981-1992 (12 seasons) with Washington Redskins, 124-60 regular season record (.673 winning percentage), went to 4 Super Bowls, won 3 Super Bowls, 4 Division Titles
  • Bud Grant:  1967-1983, 1985 (18 seasons) with Minnesota Vikings, 158-96-5 regular season record (.610 winning percentage), went to 4 Super Bowls, won 0 Super Bowls, 11 Division Titles
  • Tom Landry:  1960-1988 (29 seasons) with Dallas Cowboys, 250-162-6 regular season record (.598 winning percentage), went to 5 Super Bowls, won 2 Super Bowls, 13 Division Titles
  • Marv Levy:  1978-1982 (5 seasons) with Kansas City Chiefs, 1986-1997 (12 seasons) with Buffalo Bills, 143-112 regular season record (.561 winning percentage), went to 4 Super Bowls, won 0 Super Bowls, 6 Division Titles (all with Buffalo)
  • John Madden:  1969-1978 (10 seasons) with Oakland Raiders, 103-32-7 regular season record (.725 winning percentage), went to 1 Super Bowl, won 1 Super Bowl, 7 Division Titles
  • Chuck Noll:  1969-1991 (23 seasons) with Pittsburgh Steelers, 193-148-1 regular season record (.564 winning percentage), went to 4 Super Bowls, won 4 Super Bowls, 9 Division Titles
  • Don Shula:  1963-1969 (7 seasons) with Baltimore Colts, 1970-1995 (26 seasons) with Miami Dolphins, 328-156-6 regular season record (.669 winning percentage), went to 6 Super Bowls (5 with Miami), won 2 Super Bowls (both with Miami), 14 Division Titles
  • Bill Walsh:  1979-1988 (10 seasons) with San Francisco 49ers, 92-59-1 regular season record (.605 winning percentage), went to 3 Super Bowls, won 3 Super Bowls, 6 Division Titles

Now, let’s just take a quick look at Holmgren’s stats before we continue:

  • Mike Holmgren:  1992-1998 (7 seasons) with Green Bay Packers, 1999-2008 (10 seasons) with Seattle Seahawks, 161-111 regular season record (.592 winning percentage), went to 3 Super Bowls (2 with Green Bay), won 1 Super Bowl (with Green Bay), 8 Division Titles (3 with Green Bay)

The first thing I notice is, while longevity of career isn’t a dealbreaker (Madden and Walsh both coaching just 10 years before retiring for good), it’s certainly a plus.  And it’s certainly something Holmgren has in his favor, with 17 total seasons in coaching.

The second thing I notice is, while winning a Super Bowl isn’t a must (after all, Levy & Grant were a combined 0 for 8 in their attempts), it certainly couldn’t hurt.  I think, more than anything, GOING to multiple Super Bowls is the prerequisite for getting into the Hall (all of the above, except for Madden, coached in at least three).  Mike Holmgren has the three, and he even has the one win, so that puts him right there in range as well.

The third thing I notice is winning percentage.  You’ve got to have a solid winning percentage.  The above-referenced coaches range from .561 (Marv Levy) to .725 (John Madden, with the best all time for a guy with 100+ victories).  Holmgren is right there with a .592 winning percentage.

When you look at the numbers by themselves, you have to think Holmgren belongs.  Then, when you take into account that he took a moribund franchise in Green Bay and turned them into a powerhouse, as well as the fact that he helped mold Brett Favre (one of our greatest quarterbacks of all time) into what he eventually became, and THEN he went to Seattle to turn around THAT moribund franchise!  I mean, Mike Holmgren is a fucking miracle worker!

But, there’s something lurking out there that’s likely to … if it doesn’t prevent his induction, it’ll at least prolong the wait.  And that’s his current competition.  Such as the following:

  • Bill Parcells:  1983-2006 (with gaps in between, across 4 teams and 19 seasons), 172-130-1 regular season record (.568 winning percentage), went to 3 Super Bowls (1 with New England Patriots), won 2 Super Bowls (both with New York Giants), 5 Division Titles
  • Bill Belichick:  1991-present (with a 5-year gap between Cleveland & New England, comprising 17 seasons), 175-97 regular season record (.643 winning percentage), went to 5 Super Bowls, won 3 Super Bowls (all with New England), 9 Division Titles (all with New England)
  • Bill Cowher:  1992-2006 (15 seasons) with Pittsburgh Steelers, 149-90 regular season record (.623 winning percentage), went to 2 Super Bowls, won 1 Super Bowl, 8 Division Titles
  • Dan Reeves:  1981-2003 (23 seasons) with Denver Broncos, New York Giants, & Atlanta Falcons, 190-165-2 (.532 winning percentage), went to 4 Super Bowls, won 0 Super Bowls, 6 Division Titles
  • Jimmy Johnson:  1989-1999 (with a 3-year gap between Dallas & Miami, comprising 9 seasons), 80-64 regular season record (.556 winning percentage), went to 2 Super Bowls, won 2 Super Bowls, 2 Division Titles
  • Tom Coughlin:  1995-present (with a 2-year gap between Jacksonville & New York, comprising 16 seasons), 142-114 regular season record (.555 winning percentage), went to 2 Super Bowls, won 2 Super Bowls, 5 Division Titles

That’s not even taking into account other fringe candidates like Tony Dungy, Andy Reid, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Ditka, and even Dick Vermeil.  You could argue all of the above (not so much these fringe guys in this paragraph) are just as deserving as Mike Holmgren.  Coughlin, Johnson, Parcells,  and Belichick all have more Super Bowl victories.  Dan Reeves took four different teams to Super Bowls, and Bill Cowher has a great winning percentage.

I think Parcells will get in eventually (I think he’s being held back because he coached for so many different teams in his career, which is a shame).  Belichick is a shoo-in just as soon as he retires (so, for Holmgren’s sake, I hope he stays in coaching for a while).  I think Johnson gets denied because he didn’t coach long enough.  I think Reeves gets in eventually, but not until the Veteran’s Committee puts him in (his winning percentage and his lack of success in Super Bowls has to be what’s kept him out this long).  I think Cowher is on the outside looking in, unless he comes back to the NFL and takes another team to the Super Bowl.  And I think Coughlin is right there on the edge, but probably needs to make one more Super Bowl appearance before he’s a lock.

And ultimately, I think Mike Holmgren will make it in.  In my opinion, any coach who can make the Seattle Seahawks relevant is a Hall of Famer through and through.  We were a NOTHING franchise until he got here.  He made us a winner.  And everyone who comes after him will forever be living in his shadow (until, ultimately, the Seahawks win it all, should it ever happen).

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