Coach-GM role could steal away Cowher With Donahoe signed, Steelers coach may be open to best offer

Rumor central

January 21, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- Heard at the Super Bowl:

Now that Tom Donahoe has agreed to a 10-year contract to remain the Pittsburgh Steelers' director of football operations, the question is whether coach Bill Cowher will stay when his current contract expires in two years.

The story making the rounds is that Cowher fancies himself as another Bill Parcells or Jimmy Johnson, who can run a team as well as coach it. In Parcells' terms, he wants to buy the groceries as well as cook the meal.

Cowher's not going to do that in Pittsburgh now that Donahoe has spurned the Seattle Seahawks to stay in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Donahoe's decision to stay in Pittsburgh may mean that coach Dennis Erickson is safe in Seattle for another year because the Seahawks may be stymied in their search for an experienced general manager. If Donahoe had gotten the job, he would have wanted to hire a new head coach.

There had been speculation that the Seahawks were interested in Green Bay Packers GM Ron Wolf, but he says he's under contract until the year 2002. There's one scenario in which that could change. The Packers could let Wolf talk to the Seahawks if they decide the only way to keep coach Mike Holmgren is to give him both titles. Holmgren's contract expires in two years and he declined an extension last year because he might be interested in running a franchise.

There's even talk that Holmgren could return to his hometown of San Francisco in two years if Steve Mariucci doesn't get the team in the Super Bowl by then. Mariucci shouldn't have to worry about job security after a 13-3 rookie season, but the 49ers aren't noted for patience.

San Francisco team president Carmen Policy has confirmed speculation that he felt he was in danger of losing his job this year. Policy apparently didn't feel that former owner Eddie DeBartolo was listening to his advice.

DeBartolo dismissed Policy's comments as a "blip on the radar screen" and "blown out of context." But it was another example that there's not a lot of job security with the 49ers when the team doesn't go to the Super Bowl.

Despite a New York Times report that several African-American assistants coaches talked about filing a discrimination lawsuit against the league, NFL officials aren't expecting them to actually file one.

The tip-off came when all the assistants declined to be identified. If they're not going to put their names in a newspaper article, they're not likely to put it on a lawsuit.

Even though they're frustrated that the league has filled 13 straight coaching jobs the last two years without hiring a minority, none of the black assistants appears willing to risk becoming another Curt Flood, the late baseball star who helped pave the way for free agency even though he lost a court fight in the 1970s.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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