Mike Holmgren's sphere of influence

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
5:27
PM ET

Mike Holmgren knew he had a good team in 1996. With an offense led by quarterback Brett Favre and a defense led by defensive end Reggie White, the Green Bay Packers breezed through the regular season, winning 13 games by an average of 21.3 points per game. In the playoffs, the Packers beat San Francisco by 21 points and then Carolina by 17.

And still, heading into the Super Bowl, where the Packers would face a New England Patriots team coached by the legendary Bill Parcells, Holmgren had this thought:

"Man, do belong here against this guy in this game?"

Holmgren belonged. He belonged because he was a master communicator, and because four seasons earlier, when he finally got the shot to be a head coach in the National Football League that he wasn't sure would ever come, he assembled a talented coaching staff that could effectively convey his message. Having learned the West Coast offense at the feet of the great San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, Holmgren was an innovative playcaller, a detail-oriented taskmaster, a straight shooter and a demanding leader.

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