The joint was packed, the stories flowed and the induction Saturday night of Mike Holmgren into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame was a fun affair at the Lambeau Field Atrium. Holmgren, presented by fellow Hall of Famer and former general manager Ron Wolf, was the only inductee of the night. His record speaks for itself. Seven years as head coach of the Pack, 7 winning seasons, six playoff berths, three straight trips to the NFC title game, back to back Super Bowl apperances and the Super Bowl XXXI victory over the New England Patriots in January of 1997. Holmgren was able to refine the game of Brett Favre, turning him into a three-time MVP. Wolf delivered the pieces through the draft and free agency, most notably with Reggie White and in concert, ressurrected a dormant NFL franchise into a model of playoff consistency that continues to this day, 14 years and three head coaches after Holmgren departed for Seattle.
I covered Holmgren's entire tenure and worked closely with him over his first four years in Green Bay. I produced and anchored a daily program with Mike that was syndicated statewide. Twice each week during the season, I would visit with Mike in his office to record the interviews. That would take about 10 minutes and very often, we would chat about the team and the rest of the league for another 10 to 15 more minutes. Holmgren was and is a terrific story teller and I learned more about coaching a professional team from him than anyone else I've covered. His wife Kathy, like my wife, is a cancer survivor and both our children are of similar age. We built a professional and friendly relationship that continues even as Holmgren now leads the Cleveland Browns franchise as president. It's a deserving honor entering the Hall and it was great to see him humbled by the induction. The ceremony actually opens the 2012 Green Bay Packers campaign with some pomp and circumstance, more is coming Tuesday when a record number of "owners" converge on Lambeau for the annual stockholders meeting. The number of share holders grew exponentially this past year with the latest stock sale to help fund the expansion of Lambeau and up to 25,000 owners are expected to hear about the record 43 million dollar profit for the organization last fiscal year. Then the players report to St. Norbert College Wednesday night and training camp begins bright and early Thursday morning with an 8:15 AM practice and away we go. I'll have regular blogs from camp and of course throughout the season. On the link below, listen to comments from both Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf about the Hall of Fame tenure of the third winningest coach in Packers history.