For change, Tagliabue needs Jones Hiring of Packers' Lewis would be minority boost

Rumor central

January 24, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF DTC

SAN DIEGO -- Heard at the Super Bowl:

Does commissioner Paul Tagliabue know something about Jerry Jones' hiring plans?

That's what several NFL observers were wondering yesterday after Tagliabue said the league is making progress on the minority head-coaching front.

That came a day after the Raiders hired young Jon Gruden, 34, of the Philadelphia Eagles over Sherman Lewis, the Green Bay Packers' veteran offensive coordinator.

Tagliabue went on to say that when he meets with the coaches in February, he'll be able to show them real change and progress.

That's where Jones, the Dallas Cowboys' owner, comes into the picture. He has given Tagliabue a lot of grief in recents years in their battle over his marketing deals.

Now he's in a position to do Jones a favor.

Unless Jones hires Lewis -- and the Dallas owner has said he's going to interview him -- it will be difficult for Tagliabue to show any progress next month.

In fact, the ranks of minority head coaches could drop from three to two because Dennis Green, unhappy over the unsettled ownership situation, may quit in Minnesota.

This has prompted speculation that Jones may have given Tagliabue a hint that he's serious about hiring Lewis.

The NFL's annual scouting combine takes place Feb. 5-9 in Indianapolis, and one of the top defensive prospects will be Andre Wadsworth. He could be the first defensive player taken.

But he's likely to be the last to sign because he has hired Eugene Parker as his agent. Parker, tabbed "King of the Holdouts" by Ravens owner Art Modell, represented the fourth, fifth and sixth picks last year, Peter Boulware of the Ravens, Bryant Westbrook of the Lions and Walter Jones of the Seahawks. All were long holdouts.

The first two players likely to be picked, quarterbacks Peyton Manning of Tennessee and Ryan Leaf of Washington State, were signed by Leigh Steinberg and Tom Condon, respectively.

Steinberg tends to avoid holdouts, but Condon got Heath

Shuler's career off to a slow start when he fell behind after staying out of the Washington Redskins' camp for 13 days. He eventually lost the job to Gus Frerotte.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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