- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

Marvin Lewis ultimately refused to settle.
The Washington Redskins' defensive coordinator yesterday explained his difficult decision not to become Michigan State's coach, saying he has invested too much in pursuit of an NFL head coaching job to accept a college post at this time.
The Spartans made a generous five-year, $7.5million proposal, and Lewis was so excited about those terms, the program's setup and the area that he came very close to taking the job.
One source close to him said his feelings flipped "four times" Wednesday, the day that ended with him telling school officials, who had grown extremely confident that he would accept the post, that he was not coming.
"I've been battling something here in the NFL," Lewis said at an informal news conference at Redskin Park. "Hopefully, I don't give in to this. To me, [taking the Michigan State job] may have been somewhat settling and going in a different direction. So I chose to stay here."
The question now becomes whether Lewis can land one of the NFL jobs that open this winter. Currently the most likely openings appeal with the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks.
Lewis has been a hot candidate the past two years, thanks to his record-setting Baltimore Ravens defense in 2000 that helped win Super Bowl XXXV. Last winter he was linked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job. This year it is unclear whether he will be as highly pursued because Washington (5-8) is out of the playoffs.
"He'll be a secondary name because of what he's done in the past but spending a year in Washington hasn't helped him," one NFL general manager said yesterday.
Said another: "There isn't one hot name. Maybe Marvin's name not being mentioned often is good for him. Maybe teams are looking at him and don't want to tip others."
Something that could become a factor in Lewis' prospective candidacy is the perception that he cannot commit. Last year he told the Ravens that he would return as coordinator and then accepted Washington's offer. This week he was patient, but both Michigan State and Redskins seemed certain he would choose them at various times during the three days he took to decide.
League executives contacted yesterday didn't think any perceived indecisiveness on Lewis' part would be a problem. Ravens owner Art Modell agreed with that sentiment even as he acknowledged frustration with the way Lewis backed out of Baltimore last year.
"I was disappointed in his ambivalence with the Ravens, and I'm sure Michigan State was, too," Modell said. "But his character and heart are unquestioned. If somebody wants to hire him in the pros, they'll take him in five minutes."
An asset for Lewis should be the renewed pressure on teams to hire black candidates.
Currently, the NFL has two black head coaches, the Indianapolis Colts' Tony Dungy and New York Jets' Herman Edwards. But in September, lawyers Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran threatened legal action if the league didn't act to boost those figures. The NFL responded in late October by assembling a five-owner committee to study the issue.
Lewis' rejection of Michigan State wasn't based on confidence that he definitely would land an NFL job, sources close to him said. But he acknowledged that the increased attention to the issue of race could help those in his situation.
"I'm sure it's going to shed light on the whole opportunity, in a big way, and it has," Lewis said. "The committee that's a real thing. So I think it's very positive."
In the end, Lewis and his wife, Peggy, decided he couldn't make the five- or six-year commitment that they decided would be necessary for him to accept something less than an NFL head post, those close to him said.
A long-term commitment obviously was important to Michigan State, too, but Lewis didn't want the job as a steppingstone. He ultimately considered the job a lateral move, sources said, adding that the school's buyback clause, as expected, was not a factor.
The prospect of NFL possibilities for Lewis left the Redskins making no pretense about him remaining in place beyond this season.
"He could interview again we all know that," coach Steve Spurrier said. "If he felt like that was something he really wanted to do, we were prepared to put another guy in charge and go with it. So we don't have to worry about that at this time."
Said linebacker Jessie Armstead: "We're hoping he gets a head coaching job. He deserves it. We hate to lose him, but we can't be selfish about the situation. He has a family, and we hope he gets the things he really wants in life."

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