Redskins, Turner sidelined

January 06, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue forced the Washington Redskins to delay their quest for Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner yesterday.

After Charley Casserly, the Redskins general manager, called Turner yesterday to set up an interview this weekend for their head coaching position, Tagliabue told the owners at a meeting in Dallas that he no longer will allow assistant coaches to be interviewed by other teams as long as their teams are still in the playoffs.

John Kent Cooke, the son of owner Jack Kent Cooke who represented the Redskins at the meeting that was called to ratify the new TV contract, then phoned Casserly to tell him about Tagliabue's new policy.

Casserly immediately called Turner to cancel the interview.

"It was a courtesy call to tell him we can't talk now," Casserly said.

The league didn't announce the policy change and a league spokesman didn't return a call last night to explain the reason for the change.

Tagliabue apparently didn't like the idea of a coach working in the playoffs for one team after he's been hired by another one.

This policy is likely to affect only Cowboys assistant coaches because most teams deny permission for their coaches to interview for jobs until they finish the playoffs.

But Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson thinks it's less of a distraction for a coach to know where he's going when the playoffs are over.

That's why he allowed the Chicago Bears to interview and hire Dave Wannstedt, who was the Cowboys' defensive coordinator last season, in the off-week before the Super Bowl last year. Wannstedt then coached the Cowboys in the Super Bowl.

Since the Cowboys have a bye this week and are taking Saturdayand Sunday off, owner Jerry Jones gave the Redskins permission to talk to Turner until Monday.

"Once Monday gets here, all our attention will be on our first playoff game," Turner said before he got the news the interview was off.

Turner was going to fly to Washington after practice Friday and meet with Jack Kent Cooke on Saturday.

If Cooke was impressed with Turner, it was likely he was going to offer him the job.

Now, Cooke will have to wait until after the Cowboys are eliminated or go to the Super Bowl to interview him. The Super Bowl is Jan. 30, so they may not talk before February.

Turner said yesterday the Redskins are the only team to call him. The Atlanta Falcons, who fired Jerry Glanville Tuesday, are the only other team looking for a coach, but they've yet to show interest in Turner.

If another team fires a coach in the next few days or weeks, the Redskins could have competition for Turner.

Joe Gibbs, who resigned as the Redskins coach last March 5, said last night he hasn't been contacted by the Redskins or the Falcons and has no plans to coach in 1994.

"My plan is to watch Coy," he said in reference to his son, who'll play his senior year at Stanford in 1994.

Gibbs also said he "feels bad for everybody" now that Richie Petitbonhas been fired as head coach. Gibbs said he thought the Redskins "would keep on rolling" the way the San Francisco 49ers did when Bill Walsh retired after the 1988 season.

Quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith said this week they hope Turner doesn't leave, but Turner's left no doubt he wants the Redskins job. "It's nice of them to say that, but I think we're all looking to advance," Turner said.

Turner's on the top of the Redskins list even though he's never been a head coach on any level.

A Redskins source said: "He seems like a bright offensive coach, a good people person and a hard worker who uses his talent well."

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