By John Brooks
GREEN BAY, WI (JULY 26, 2012) – The Green Bay Packers inducted former head coach Mike Holmgren into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 21. Holmgren, now the president of the Cleveland Browns, and his family, have been longtime members of the Evangelical Covenant Church and strong supporters of North Park University.
Holmgren was the only inductee to the Packers Hall of Fame this year. After coming to the team in 1992, he turned around a franchise that had endured more than two decades of losing seasons.
National Football League (NFL) coaching history with seven consecutive winning seasons and six consecutive playoff seasons. Holmgren coached the 1996 team to a 13-3 record in the regular season, and defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, 35-21.
Holmgren thanked many people, including Ron Wolf, the Packers’ general manager who hired him. “He took a chance on a young coach who was five years removed from coaching in high school,” Holmgren said.
Holmgren wasn’t sure how long he was going to last the season after the Packers started with a losing record. But after starter Don Majkowski was injured, the coach inserted a quarterback named Brett Favre, who threw “two of the most beautiful passes I’ve ever seen, and we win the game.”
For his part, Wolf noted Holmgren’s amazing accomplishments with the team. “I mean, for 24 years after Lombardi left, there were four winning seasons here. And one of those seasons shouldn’t even count; it was the strike year. So just think about that, 24 years, they had three winning seasons. He comes here and never has a losing season.
Holmgren and his wife, Kathy, are longtime members of the North Park University President’s Club, and have been important partners in several university building projects, including the Brandel Library, the Helwig Recreation Center, and the Johnson Center for Science and Community Life. (Ground breaking for the science and community life building will be in October.)
The university’s athletic complex, named for the Holmgrens, is home to the school’s football, baseball, softball, and soccer teams. The University also presented him an honorary doctorate in 1997.
Kathy Holmgren earned an undergraduate nursing degree at the university, was recognized as a Distinguished Alumna in 2006, and served on the university’s board of trustees. The Holmgrens’ four daughters, Calla, Emily, Gretchen, and Jennifer, earned degrees at the University. Calla Holmgren, of Salt Lake City, is in her second year as a University trustee.
Kathy and Calla have participated in mission trips sponsored by Paul Carlson Partnership and Covenant World Relief.