Rule change would give assistance to coaches

Ravens: Let assistants interview during playoffs

March 10, 2001|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

In the aftermath of a postseason that saw Super Bowl assistant coaches Marvin Lewis and John Fox excluded from consideration for virtually all head-coaching openings, the NFL is studying revision of the rule that prohibits interviews while a team is still playing.

Leading the charge for change are Ravens owner Art Modell, personnel executive Ozzie Newsome and coach Brian Billick.

"I want Marvin to become a head coach in this league," Modell said of Lewis, the coordinator of the Ravens' record-setting defense. "That is something I would find very rewarding personally."

Because they were matched up in Super Bowl XXXV, Lewis and Fox, who is the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, watched from the sideline as eight of nine openings were filled before their season ended.

The Buffalo Bills were the only team that waited until after the Super Bowl to name a coach. They interviewed Lewis and Fox, then selected Gregg Williams of the Tennessee Titans.

The Ravens want to liberalize the rule that prohibits an assistant coach whose team is still playing from interviewing for a head-coaching vacancy.

"Competitive success should not be a liability for a career," Modell said. "I'm pushing to open up a window during the playoff run so he can go down and visit a prospective owner, employer."

Modell already has addressed the subject with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Newsome is a new member of the league's competition committee, which is meeting in Naples, Fla., through next week. The committee is looking at possible changes to the rule.

Billick also has been involved. He and a select group of head coaches met in a subcommittee recently to explore ways of improving opportunities of advancement for assistants.

"I think the prevailing sentiment was that something needs to be done; we need to alter it," Billick said. "What that form needs to be, that's what needs to be debated."

Lewis' agent, Ray Anderson, has submitted a proposal to Tagliabue that would allow coaches to contact, interview and hire coaches up to three days after the conference championship game. That rule likely would not apply in seasons like 2001, when there is just one week between the championship game and the Super Bowl.

Modell believes there should be a period of time in the postseason when teams could interview candidates of playoff teams, but he draws a line there.

"I don't think they ought to be in a position of making a proposal and hiring the guy while we're in the playoff run," he said.

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