- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

Washington Redskins officials reached a rest stop in their frenetic search for a new coach yesterday as they completed an interview with former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green and now await a possible meeting with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes tomorrow.

Starting Friday and ending yesterday morning, Green met with owner Dan Snyder and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato in San Francisco for about 12 hours — about the same amount of time former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel spent with them Thursday and early Friday.

Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said Green’s meeting concluded over breakfast and involved the same thorough questioning that defined Fassel’s meeting.

Capping a whirlwind first thrust since former coach Steve Spurrier abruptly resigned Tuesday, Snyder and Cerrato now will wait to determine their next step.

If the Seahawks lose this afternoon at Green Bay, the Redskins’ brass will interview Rhodes and then invite their top candidates back to Redskin Park for second meetings. If Seattle wins and Rhodes staves off a meeting for another week, Washington might move forward with its top candidate, perhaps Fassel.

Fassel met with Arizona Cardinals officials yesterday in Tempe, Ariz., and had plans to meet with the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills in coming days. The most sought-after candidate in this winter’s coaching pool, Fassel could have three or four offers by late next week.

The Redskins apparently will not try to complete an immediate agreement with Fassel now that the diversity element of their coaching search is met. Due to NFL diversity guidelines, Washington could not have come to an agreement with Fassel before interviewing Green or Rhodes, both of whom are black.

“The team is committed to talk to Ray,” Swanson said.

It was unclear how close Washington and Green came to resolving an anticipated divide over control of personnel. Redskins personnel issues are controlled by Snyder and Cerrato; when Spurrier was coach, he had equal say with Cerrato and ties were broken by Snyder. Green, in contrast, had total authority with the Vikings.

The issue of personnel control can be so significant with experienced coaching candidates that a number of officials with other NFL clubs believe it will lead to Washington hiring Rhodes, who, according to colleagues, wouldn’t demand total authority.

However, agent Steve Rosner said Friday regarding Fassel, “At the moment, I don’t think [control of personnel] is an issue.”

Green’s agent, Gary O’Hagan, declined comment yesterday. Swanson wasn’t able to comment on details of Green’s interview, and Cerrato hasn’t returned phone messages since leaving for the West Coast.

The Redskins’ immediate pursuit of Fassel and his track record of success in the NFC East make him the apparent top candidate. He won two division titles in seven seasons with the Giants and advanced to the Super Bowl following the 2000 season. His record in New York was 58-53-1.

Green went to the playoffs an incredible eight times in 10 seasons with the Vikings, and his offenses often dominated their competition. His record in Minnesota was 97-62.

Rhodes went to the playoffs his first two years as Philadelphia Eagles coach but overall was 37-42-1 in five seasons as a coach, four in Philadelphia and one in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, Swanson indicated there are no immediate plans to meet with Oakland Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen. An SI.com report said Washington might look at Allen for an executive position, likely team president. Allen already has interviewed with Tampa Bay, apparently to replace Rich McKay as general manager.

“We’re strictly searching for a coach,” Swanson said.

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