MINNEAPOLIS -- Guard Russ Grimm, who talked in training camp about retiring at the end of this season, seems to be having second thoughts now that the end is one game away.
"I always leave the door open. I don't want to close the door. You don't know what's on the other side. You might have to get out there in the real world and you might not like it," the Washington Redskins' 11-year, 32-year-old veteran said yesterday.
Grimm said he'll ponder his future after Super Bowl XXVI on Sunday, but he sounds as if he'd still like to play.
"I love the game. I came into the league and I said I'd play as long as it's fun. Right now it's still fun. It's not like IBM is kicking my door in. Let's put it that way," he said.
"I'll sit down [after the Super Bowl] and decide what I want to do. Who knows? It might not even be my decision," he said.
He plans to meet with coach Joe Gibbs after the season to find out whether he's still in the Redskins' plans.
"That'll probably be what it'll come down to," he said.
Grimm said he thinks he can still play, "but, obviously the durability's not there."
Gibbs will have to decide whether he wants to bring Grimm back to camp next year as a backup, but neither Grimm nor the Redskins is going to worry about it right now.
"We've got Buffalo to worry about now," Grimm said.
* Safety Terry Hoage, who was placed on injured reserve Oct. 26 with a broken arm, has recovered and is likely to be activated. He'll probably replace middle linebacker Matt Millen, who didn't suit up for the first two playoff games because the Redskins were playing run-and-shoot teams. Hoage would be more valuable against Buffalo's no-huddle offense.
* The two Super Bowl teams have one thing in common -- each has a former Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts head coach on its offensive coaching staff. The Bills have Ted Marchibroda, and the Redskins have Rod Dowhower.
Marchibroda is a candidate to return to the Colts as head coach, and Dowhower finds it difficult to believe that Marchibroda would be willing to work for Colts owner Bob Irsay a second time.
"Everybody has their goals in life. That wouldn't be one of mine," he said.
He added to a Baltimore reporter: "You may know it [Colts franchise] better . . . well, you don't know it better than I do, but you know a lot. It'd be interesting to say the least. I wouldn't [go back to the Colts]. Gosh, that'd be hard to do. I don't know if there's enough money to do that."
Dowhower added: "Marchibroda is a heck of a coach and a good man. Obviously, his situation and the way he's thinking is different than mine. Also, it depends on how you go out."
Dowhower, who is being mentioned as a candidate for the offensive coordinator's jobs in San Francisco and Minnesota, was fired by the Colts with an 0-13 record in his second season in 1986.
Irsay tried to avoid paying him for the final year of his contract on the grounds that he violated it by not keeping in touch with the owner. Former commissioner Pete Rozelle ruled that Irsay had to pay Dowhower.
Dowhower said: "We both walked away basically stating we'd never call each other names again. But that was basically a one-sided thing because I don't remember calling them a lot of names."
Marchibroda, who squabbled with the late general manager Joe Thomas, seems to have no qualms about working for Irsay again.
"My circumstances were [with] Joe Thomas. The owner was in Chicago," he said.
Marchibroda won three division titles in Baltimore but was fired by Irsay after the Colts had 5-11 records in 1978 and 1979.
* When Bill Cowher was named the Steelers head coach yesterday, he was asked in a conference call to name his three most memorable moments when he was in Cleveland as a player and a coach for much of the 1980s. He named three frustrating moments in playoff games -- Brian Sipe's fourth-quarter intercepted pass in the 1980 playoff game against the Raiders and "The Drive" and "The Fumble" in the 1986 and 1987 AFC title games, respectively, against Denver.
The fumble was Earnest Byner's on the Denver 3 when he was close to scoring the tying touchdown.
It's still remembered in Cleveland, but Byner is tired of hearing about it.
"I'm only concerned that you all keep bringing it up. I'm going to close the door on it right now," he said. But he added, "I don't think the fans [in Cleveland] ever forgave me."
* Wide receiver Art Monk, who hadn't granted interviews since becoming the second all-time leading receiver Oct. 13, spoke with reporters for the second straight week yesterday.
At the picture day session, he was asked about what breaking Steve Largent's record next season will mean to him. He's at 801, and Largent finished with 819.
"I think it would be very exciting to break his record, but I don't think the effects will sink in until after I retire," he said.
Bills wide receiver James Lofton predicted Monk will catch 1,000 passes before he retires, but Monk said: "Each year, it gets it a little harder and a little tougher. I prefer not to think along those lines. I want to take each year as it comes."