Mike Holmgren was once in the middle of one of the biggest quarterback controversies in NFL history. As the 49ers' quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, Holmgren had to foster the relationship between starter Joe Montana and challenger Steve Young.
While there was some turbulence, things ultimately worked out for everyone. Montana won his third and fourth Super Bowl rings with Young backing him up. Young, who was traded from Tampa Bay to San Francisco in 1987, went on to win his own Super Bowl in 1994. By that time, Holmgren was coaching another future Hall of Fame quarterback -- Brett Favre -- in Green Bay.
"Bill Walsh didn't tell Joe they were bringing Steve Young in," Holmgren recalled Friday on the Carmen & Jurko show on ESPN Chicago. "He just did it."
Holmgren, who led the Packers to one Super Bowl win and consecutive NFC championships in the late 1990s, acknowledged that times have changed and that players as good as Aaron Rodgers should be given some insight into their team's short- and long-term plans. He said he would have had a sit-down meeting with Rodgers prior to the team's selection of Jordan Love in the 2020 draft.
"They didn't handle it very well, I don't think," Holmgren said of the Packers' situation with Rodgers.
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Rogers' uncertain future in Green Bay was the talk of the 2021 draft. And while the scale of Rogers' displeasure with the franchise became public over the past week, the rift between the two has been a lengthy development. Rumblings of Rogers' displeasure began after the Packers traded up to select Love in the 2020 draft. Those rumblings escalated after Packers coach Matt LaFleur opted not to go for it on fourth-and-goal with the Packers trailing by eight points in January's NFC Championship Game.
"It's not good, that's for sure," Holmgren said of the situation in Green Bay. "I can't imagine a relationship between the coach or management or whoever is making the decisions and the starting quarterback like that getting to this point. I just can't imagine it. I wouldn't allow it. It wouldn't happen. But now, it has happened."
How bad have things gotten in Green Bay? Rodgers has reportedly told the Packers that he no longer wants to play for the franchise. According to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo, Rodgers warned free agents this offseason that he may not be in Green Bay for the 2021 season. And while Rodgers has remained mum on the topic (at least publicly), Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged that there is an "issue" between the franchise and the three-time league MVP.
Given everything that has transpired, how would Holmgren handle the Packers' situation?
"I would call [Rodgers] in, we'd sit down and not leave until we kind of had an understanding one way or the other," he said. "I would call him in [and say], 'This is how it's gonna affect you. We've got to get ready for when you retire. We've got to take care of the franchise, but nothing's going to happen now. You're the man, you're the guy.'
"Then, if he didn't like that, now all of a sudden you're in the current situation that you're having."