"Every Monday, I can't come in and give you pep talks," he recalled telling his players during a session with reporters a few hours later. "That went out when I was talking to my freshmen at Oak Grove High School (in San Jose in the 1980s): 'Did you get the box of muffins the other team sent you because you're soft?' That only works so much.
"They're grown men, and we've got to treat it that way."
What Holmgren settled upon was a story from his past -- way back in his past, in fact.
The 60-year-old head coach compared the Seahawks' current situation to that of a 15-year-old Holmgren. Forty-five years ago, Holmgren entered the working world as a construction worker who was trying to impress his father.
"It was just awful, the hardest thing I've ever done," he said Monday afternoon, relaying the story he told his players. "I probably wanted to quit 25 times, but I didn't. I was 15 years old, and my hands were bleeding, but no one cared. I didn't want to let my dad down, so I didn't quit."
The story was meant to teach the players the importance of continuing on in hard times. But it was impossible to ignore the parallels to his latest occupation.
Forty-five years later, Holmgren's job is almost as tough -- only without the bleeding hands.
"I like my job," Holmgren said of his current, albeit temporary, occupation as the Seahawks' head coach. "I like what I do a lot more than I liked that job. ... What I was saying (to the players) was: you've got to stick with it, regardless of how difficult it gets."
At midseason, the Seahawks are 2-6 and as far from playoff contention as they've been in years. The news got even worse on Monday, when Holmgren found out that defensive end Patrick Kerney will undergo shoulder surgery that will keep him out for multiple weeks and possibly even the remainder of the season.
Even that guy Murphy didn't have it this bad.
"It's been a heck of a deal," Holmgren said on Monday. "I feel bad about it. I feel bad for (the players); I feel bad for the fans. You just keep going."
This is certainly not the way that Holmgren expected to go out. He's already announced his intentions to step down after the 2008 season, yet it's become apparent that he won't be getting carried out on the shoulders of his players after a Super Bowl victory.
"I'm disappointed right now with what our record is and stuff," Holmgren said. "You have visions. And justifiably so; there was no reason to think we wouldn't (be successful this season). And then the circumstances change, and it's hard.
"Yeah, it's hard."
Holmgren said that the key to this season, just like it was 45 years ago, is to keep on plugging away.
"We're having a tough year," he said. "The city's having a tough year, sports-wise. But it wouldn't be the first time this has happened -- to a city or a team.
"And I guarantee you, this'll flip when (the Seahawks) have all your guys (back from injury). I guarantee you. It's just where we are right now."
The Seahawks' fortunes may well flip. The question posed to Holmgren on Monday was whether there's enough time left in the 2008 season.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll see. I need to get some guys back. But right now, we'll take it a week at a time. I've got to keep them going."
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