Redskins could be calling on old NFC East foe

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder strongly considered hiring former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel back in 2004, until Joe Gibbs came out of retirement.

Now that Gibbs has re-retired, Snyder is, once again, strongly considering hiring Fassel.

There even are those familiar with the Redskins situation that believe Fassel is the leading candidate for the job, and Washington could hire him as early as Wednesday.

To further strengthen the Fassel ticket, the Redskins also are pursuing former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, whom Baltimore fired along with its former head coach Brian Billick. Atlanta interviewed Ryan for its head coaching position, but is now thought to be waiting to speak with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo.

Baltimore would like to retain Ryan, who worked with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh at the University of Cincinnati in 1996. But the Redskins could upset the whole equation and lure Ryan to Washington to pair with the offensive-minded Fassel.

Fassel already has interviewed twice with Snyder -- once in the week that Gibbs retired, and again Monday. Each time, Fassel was said to impress Snyder and the Redskins new executive vice president, Vinny Cerrato. Those interviews are thought to have turned Fassel, the 1997 NFL Coach of the Year, into the coach most likely to succeed Gibbs.

Washington was interested in Seattle secondary coach Jim Mora, but he withdrew his name from consideration Friday. Washington also has interviewed its current defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, Indianapolis defensive coordinator, Ron Meeks, and Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Williams has the support of the Redskins players but he has coached in Washington the past four seasons, has interviewed with Snyder and Cerrato four times, and has not received any signals that he is Gibbs' successor.

Many believe that Snyder feels comfortable with Fassel in a way he does not with others.

Fassel is the former head coach who helped lead the Giants to the Super Bowl (XXXV) with Kerry Collins as his quarterback; Fassel is the coach who, from 1997-2003, compiled a 32-19-1 record versus the NFC East teams; Fassel is the coach who has nearly landed at least three other head coaching jobs in recent seasons.

Snyder nearly hired Fassel before turning to Gibbs. Arizona nearly hired Fassel before opting for Dennis Green. Kansas City nearly hired Fassel before opting for Herman Edwards. Oakland even considered Fassel before it turned first to Art Shell, then Lane Kiffin.

Fassel has come close in recent offseasons. This offseason he might get the call to make the calls.

Coaching carousel

»Former Dolphins coach Cam Cameron is in line to be hired as Baltimore's offensive coordinator, but it's hardly a sure thing he will wind up with the Ravens. A source close to the Rams said Cameron is scheduled to interview this week with St. Louis head coach Scott Linehan. Plus, there is at least one other mystery team thought to be interested in hiring Cameron, who has a strong reputation despite his past season in Miami. Plus, Cameron has three years remaining on his Dolphins contract, meaning Miami will wind up paying the bulk of his salary in each of the next three years.

»Jon Gruden's new three-year contract extension, tacked on to the one year he had remaining on his deal with the Buccaneers, ties him to Tampa Bay through 2011 and makes him one of the five highest paid head coaches in the game. The fab five: New England's Bill Belichick, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, Denver's Mike Shanahan, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher and Gruden. How the salaries break down is uncertain. Coaches salaries are as hard to pin down as Patriots injuries.

»Around the league, the feeling was that Holmgren and Tony Dungy would each walk away and retire. Neither did. Like Dungy, Holmgren opted to return for at least one more season. For Holmgren, there are millions of reasons why. His family lives in Seattle. The Seahawks have won four straight division titles and could easily make it five in a row. Holmgren's contract calls for him to make about $8 million next season. And one of his mentors, Bill Walsh, always said that one of his biggest regrets was leaving the game one year too soon. Holmgren is not making that mistake.

Old-man Feagles

Punters usually don't make headlines. In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLII, Giants punter Jeff Feagles will. And should.

For starters, at the age of 41 years and 10 months, Feagles will become the oldest player ever to play in the Super Bowl.

Feagles has been around so long that, back in 1988, he was a rookie with the New England Patriots -- the same franchise the Giants will be facing in the Super Bowl.

Back in '88, Feagles teammates on the Patriots included Steve Grogan, Stanley Morgan, Irving Fryar, Raymond Clayborn, Doug Flutie and Andre Tippett.

For kicks

Few organizations are as classy as the Green Bay Packers. Just look at what happened Sunday, seconds after Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes booted the game-winning, 47-yard, overtime field goal.

At the single most depressing moment of the Packers' season, Gordon "Red" Batty managed to think to retrieve the football that Tynes kicked. Not only did Batty collect the football, but he personally delivered it to Tynes after the game.

It is the ultimate example of the class and sportsmanship that go along with Green Bay. Kudos to Batty. He deserves a game ball.

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