We hit the superfecta on Monday, meeting with Mike Holmgren for his weekly postgame press conference, then hooking up with Walter Jones, Lofa Tatupu and Matt Hasselbeck in the locker room after. Holmgren was the least interesting so I will save him for last.
Hasselbeck said he is hoping to play again. He said he was more hopeful than realistic that he could play last week, but the team’s medical staff told him that Wednesday he was probably not healthy enough to play. He said he did not know specifics of what is going on, but they basically said that a disc takes longer to heal and this one does not have the time to heal during a football season — particularly with the types of hits he took in the Dallas game.
This was interesting: Matt said there has been a discussion of him shutting it down for the rest of the year, and if he did that he would be fully healthy by Valentines Day. So I asked him if he plays again, does that mean he will be healthy by the Ides of March. He said it was too difficult to predict, particularly since he does not know what kind of hits he will take between now and then. But he has ruled out surgery.
He also said he and the other injured players marveled at how well the offensive line played yesterday, and they said they felt inspired. Hass said he and Walter and Rob Sims and Mike Wahle and Chris Gray and somebody else were standing on the sideline, just stunned by what the backups were doing against the New England Patriots. He said it was a very surreal situation.
Everybody kind of said that Mike Holmgren was emotional after the game, and spoke about how they need to be thinking about their future. Hasselbeck said Holmgren told the team captains, remember this year and make sure you NEVER let it happen again. Holmgren said he was emotional because he was so proud of the way the offensive line was performing in difficult circumstances, and that they played so well and lost got to him. He said he also would be lying if he didn’t admit that he is getting closer to the finish line didn’t make him emotional as well.
One question that I have, as it pertains to the upcoming draft, is exactly what is Big Walt thinking in terms of playing and/or retiring. That would have an effect, I guess, on which way the front office is leaning in terms of its draft picks. Holmgren said that Walter has been playing at a very high level this year, a Pro Bowl level. He said that if anybody is thinking that Walter is at the end of his career is making a big mistake. When I asked Walter, he said he still loves playing the game. He did not get specific in terms of additional years he wants to play, but he said as long as he still loves playing the game he will continue to play unless they kick him out. He said other than his knee, his body feels pretty good for this time of year.
We spoke with Lofa for a long time, some of it about Holmgren, some of it about Sarkisian. Lofa said he didn’t think Holmgren was done coaching. He said he thinks he just needs a break. I tried to clarify and said that Holmgren has said he is likely to come back in a different capacity, but Lofa said he thinks Holmgren likes being in the middle of it too much to stop coaching. He sees him hooking up with another team somewhere down the line.
About Sarkisian, he said he will be good for Jake Locker. He also spoke about his recruiting, and that he will likely tell kids, “You can go to USC and play for one or maybe two years, or you can come here and play for four years.” I’m always amazed by this, but Lofa was asked who at USC recruited him. “Nobody,” he said. “I sent them game tapes when I was at Maine.” Incredible. Lofa said the thing that makes Pete Carroll so good is that he views recruiting the same way he views games; he wants to win. He said Sarkisian is the same way, and will recruit to the death. Lofa said Carroll was seriously peeved when the NCAA curtailed the amount of time head coaches can go out and visit with recruits.
Holmgren said Leroy Hill’s stinger is problematic, and that it is not reacting the way he would like it to. He is doubtful for this week.
Holmgren said he thought the Seahawks should have gotten the ball back on the fumble at the end of the half. He said when he asked the official about it during the game, the official told him, “It wasn’t even close.” Holmgren said, “C’mon, at least admit it was close.” “Nope, not even close,” the official said. As you may recall from yesterday, I ran a post where I overheard the official in the press box saying the Seahawks should have had the ball with 11 seconds left. Holmgren said they will send it to the league — and be told that they are wrong.
Holmgren spoke a lot about the philosophy of players shutting it down for the year, like Matt. “I believe that if players are healthy, they should play,” Holmgren said. When I used to cover the Sonics, Nate McMillan and Dwane Casey used a phrase with their players: Don’t cheat the game. I think that is how Holmgren feels about stashing players for next year. It is cheating the game. And, frankly, I don’t think Holmgren really cares about next year right now.
He said he has not spoken to Julius Jones about not playing yesterday. He said his door is always open if Julius wants to stroll in and have a chat.