Curly Lambeau. Vince Lombardi.
Only those two coaching greats will have longer tenures as head coach of the Green Bay Packers than Mike Sherman.
The Packers signed Executive Vice President and Head Coach Mike Sherman to a two-year contract through the 2007 season on Tuesday.
"The Packers are very pleased to have him as our head coach," Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson said.
The contract will take him through his seventh year as the Packers leader. Sherman, the Packers' 13th head coach, has led the franchise to three consecutive NFC North titles.
Quarterback Brett Favre, the undisputed leader of team, enthusiastically endorsed the decision to extend his contract.
"He's done a great job. He has the respect of the players," he said. "It's overdue."
Thompson deliberated, taking his time in making a decision integral to the future of team. He did not preoccupy himself with daily evaluation of Sherman. He knew of his abilities from working with him on the same Packers staff in 1997 and 1998.
"I wasn't trying to judge or rate Mike Sherman as a coach," Thompson said. "I wanted to make sure everybody was comfortable with the structure and the communication lines were there."
The general manager called President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Harlan two to three weeks ago to start the process of extending Sherman's contract.
Retaining Sherman, who has served as Favre's head coach since Jan. 18, 2000, does not guarantee the future Hall of Famer will continue playing next year. However, the 15-year-veteran would enjoy the continuity of playing in the same offense.
"I don't see one way or the other it would affect it, but I am very pleased that he is re-signed. I think he's well-deserving of it whether I'm here or not," Favre said. "There is a comfort level I have playing with this offense and the way we do things."
Thompson retained Sherman because of his confidence in his coaching acumen. The decision had nothing to do with possible repercussions of having a coach in the last year of his contract direct his team. He said a "lame duck" coach would not have trouble earning the players' respect.
"I didn't feel that was going to be the case," he said. "A head coach is a head coach."
Sherman owns a .640 winning percentage -- fifth best among active NFL head coaches. The players enjoy his presence because of those results and his skills as leader. Eleven-year-veteran William Henderson called him a "players coach" willing to listen to his players but also push them to do their best.
"He's just one of those coaches that motivates you to get better on the field, and I know it's going to be good for this organization," Henderson said.
Sherman will turn 52 by the end of the contract as both sides agreed on a two-year deal.
"The two parties got comfortable with that term," said Thompson.
A 27-year-veteran of the profession, Sherman has coached at every level --high school, college and in the NFL.
His extension welcomes in a joyous day for the Sherman family and the Packers franchise.
"It's a good commitment on the part of the Packers," Thompson said. "It's a good commitment on the part of Mike Sherman. It's good for all parties."