BEREA - The curtain fell on "The Big Show" Tuesday afternoon.
Former Browns president Mike Holmgren, known by the aforementioned moniker, held a farewell press conference just two days before new president Joe Banner assumes his post. It marked the end of a short tenure than began in January of 2010 and was supposed to continue at least until the end of the 2014 season.
Things have a way of changing quickly in the NFL, especially in Cleveland. The ownership change from Randy Lerner to James Haslam III is sure to bring many changes, the first of which is Holmgren's move into what could be a short retirement if he decides to return to coaching.
Holmgren will leave behind a franchise he believes is on the way towards respectability despite the current 1-6 record. Regrets? As Frank Sinatra sang in "My Way," he has a few.
"The tough part and what I'll feel bad about was for Randy," Holmgren said. "I wasn't able to help enough to put a winning product on the field, at least yet. He certainly deserved that. That's what I wanted. While I fixed a number of things, that was one thing that we haven't been able to fix, yet. I think there's light at the end of the tunnel."
The Browns are 10-29 since Holmgren became president. His first major decision was to retain Eric Mangini as coach in 2010 after a 5-11 record the previous season. Holmgren thinks that was the right move at the time because Mangini had been on the job only one year, but it turned out to be the wrong choice.
Holmgren then hired Pat Shurmur as coach for the 2010 season. He maintains his belief in Shurmur, who would appear to be on shaky ground with the new owner because of his 5-18 career record. Holmgren also believes that general manager Tom Heckert is among the best at what he does in the NFL.
Thinking that the Browns are close to turning around their fortunes, Holmgren indicated that he might have stayed beyond the end of his five-year contract. That flies in the face of persistent rumors that had him stepping down before the end of his deal.
"If you didn't believe me before, I want you to believe me now," he said. "Kathy (his wife) and I, our time in Cleveland has been special. She has been very involved with charities and any number of things in the community that are behind the scenes. We've made great friendships here. It was always my intention to honor my contract, if not more.
"This business, at times, things happen. The sale of the football team changed the dynamic for me. My time was shorter than I had hoped."
Holmgren held to his plan at the time he was hired to let Heckert and Shurmur do their jobs without looking over their shoulders. He did intervene in the decision to select quarterback Colt McCoy in the third round of the 2010 draft, and he pushed for the selection of quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round of this year's draft instead of waiting to possibly get him in the second round.
When Holmgren says the Browns are close, he looks first and foremost at the way Weeden has performed.
"Brandon is off to a good start, in my opinion," Holmgren said. "I think he's a good passer. I like how he leads. People don't cut him quite as much slack because he's 29, but he's still a rookie. This is his first crack at playing against NFL teams, and it's different than college. I think there's a bright future because the organization has found its quarterback."
Holmgren, 64, plans to remain with the team and assist with the transition to Banner until the end of the season, unless he feels he's getting in the way. He then envisions a trip to Hawaii with Kathy for some R&R before returning to what had been their offseason home in Seattle.
That's where he'll decide if he wants to coach again.
"I'm leaving it open," he said. "I said this was my last great adventure. I thought it was going to be longer. We'll see what happens."