Originally created 01/19/00

Wolf sees something of Holmgren in Sherman



GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It took Mike Sherman less than five hours to convince Ron Wolf to once again risk the Green Bay Packers' future on an untested coach.

Wolf, the Packers' general manager, hired Sherman as the 13th coach in the team's 81-year history on Monday. Sherman replaces Ray Rhodes, who was abruptly fired two weeks ago after one 8-8 season.

Sherman, a long-time college assistant with just three years of NFL experience, spoke with Wolf for 4 1/2 hours in Wolf's office at Lambeau Field on Saturday. By Sunday morning, Wolf had made up his mind.

"When I talked to Mike Sherman, I knew that for all intents and purposes, the search was over," Wolf said. "I went home and thought about it that night. I told my wife that if I really and truly had any guts, I would go sign Mike Sherman right on the spot."

Sherman wasn't the first to be interviewed, but quickly made the best impression, Wolf said. In fact, their chat reminded Wolf of a similarly enlightening conversation eight years ago with Mike Holmgren, who took the Packers to two Super Bowls in his first head coaching job.

"When he (Sherman) was sitting there, he just blew my socks off," Wolf said.

Sherman was the Packers' tight ends coach for two seasons before following Holmgren to Seattle, where he was offensive coordinator this season. Green Bay was his first NFL stop after 16 seasons as a college assistant, most recently as offensive line coach at Texas A&M and UCLA.

"I realize that this is a huge responsibility and undertaking on my part, but I look forward to continuing the legacy that has been created here," Sherman said. "Many teams in the NFL don't have an identity. We do. I think last year, somehow, we just forgot that a little bit."

Green Bay missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Wolf believes the Packers have a roster that can win now, but Rhodes' inability to deliver victories and his light touch on disciplinary matters prompted Wolf to change course dramatically.

Sherman's interview may have been impressive, but the rapidly shrinking pool of candidates undoubtedly influenced Wolf's decision as well. Wolf couldn't accept the salary demands of former Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer, and St. Louis offensive coordinator Mike Martz took a hefty pay raise to stay with the Rams.

Wolf expects Sherman to curb the lack of discipline that was Rhodes' downfall, but Sherman also was attractive because he adheres to Holmgren's offensive scheme. Wolf felt the Packers' players -- particularly three-time MVP quarterback Brett Favre -- will be better off staying in the same system.

"I consider myself an offensive coach, and I want to be very much a part of the offense," Sherman said. "Certainly, Mike Holmgren's philosophy will be a part of what we do right here. ... We'll tweak it a little bit here and there, but it's pretty much that same philosophy."

Sherman passed his time quietly during his first stay in Green Bay. Wolf said he and Sherman never spoke at length during the two years as Sherman coached the team's tight ends and supervised the scout team.

But the Packers players who knew Sherman, particularly the tight ends who played under him, applauded the surprising move.

"I think they (Sherman and Holmgren) are going to be kind of similar," said Tyrone Davis, who caught seven touchdown passes during the best season of his career in 1998.

"Mike will bring his own aspect to it, but I think he'll bring that same kind of discipline. Accountability is one of the biggest things we need here."

"The team will take to him well," said Mark Chmura, who made the Pro Bowl during both of Sherman's seasons in Green Bay. "He'll demand a lot, which he should. He won't let the little things slip."

In Seattle, Sherman coordinated the team's offense, but Holmgren called the plays, just as Holmgren did with offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis during his seven seasons in Green Bay.

Holmgren touted Sherman as a future coach to friends around the league, praising his organizational skills and capacity for hard work. Sherman joins Rhodes, Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron and Andy Reid as former Holmgren assistants in Green Bay who now run their own teams.

The Packers broke off talks with Schottenheimer over the weekend, apparently because Schottenheimer's salary demands would have been more than Wolf was willing to pay. The Packers owe Rhodes and his staff at least $2 million next season.

Martz signed a two-year extension with the Rams on Monday and removed himself from consideration for any new jobs. Unlike Schottenheimer or Martz, the Packers will not need to offer compensation to the Seahawks for his services.

"He's the kind of guy that just had a presence about him," said backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who worked with Sherman on the scout team in 1998. "If he was running a drill, you weren't going to be screwing arounnd. You know he's watching."