Could Browns have hired Gruden if Holmgren wanted to?

Peter King mentioned a pretty interesting quote by Browns president Mike Holmgren about former head coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden in his latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback:

“Everyone is not privy to the information. I talked to [Bill] Cowher and I talked to [Jon] Gruden and they’re friends of mine. Of course Jon worked for me. There were a lot of reasons why that didn’t happen. In Bill’s case he wasn’t ready to come back and he was very honest about it and we had a very candid conversation. In Jon’s case, he said he would come back for me, but I said I needed a little more than that. You shouldn’t just come back for me, you should want to do this … He really enjoys TV and he’s good at it.”

— Cleveland president Mike Holmgren, to KJR in Seattle via, on considering Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher for his vacant head-coaching job before hiring Pat Shurmur.

Holmgren’s comments about Cowher make you wonder if the former Pittsburgh head coach will ever return to the sidelines. After the 2011 season, it will be five years since Cowher last coached. As King hits on, will Cowher ever have the hunger it takes to return to the sidelines?

I don’t have the faintness idea what it’s like to lose a beloved spouse (Cowher lost his wife Kaye to skin cancer seven months ago), but I would have to imagine that one never gets over it. Maybe Cowher will never have the desire to coach again. Maybe the timing will never be right. Or maybe he’ll be ready to return as soon as next year. Who knows?

As far as Gruden is concerned, I think it was smart of Holmgren not to try and convince Gruden to return to the sidelines if he’s not 100% ready. As Holmgren pointed out, Gruden would have returned to the sidelines if asked, but that’s not what Holmgren wants. He wants somebody that will have the passion to take over a young team in much need of leadership and direction from their head coach. If Gruden wasn’t all in, Holmgren wasn’t going to be either.

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