Ravens show Thomas around; Packers OK Holmgren visit; Haslett is next up


The Ravens interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas yesterday and also were one of three teams granted permission from Green Bay to talk with Packers coach Mike Holmgren.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is expected to arrive in Baltimore to meet with members of the Ravens' front office staff tomorrow. He is spending today in Seattle interviewing with the Seahawks.

Thomas, 55, was at the team's Owings Mills training camp before 9 a.m. yesterday. He spent the morning meeting with owner Art Modell and his son David, a team vice president, and then took a tour of the facilities. Thomas concluded the afternoon by watching Ravens game film with Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel, and several other members of the front office. Thomas is not one of the favorites to get the job, but is one of the finalists along with Holmgren, Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick, Jack sonville offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and Haslett. Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham and Jacksonville defensive coordinator Dick Jauron also are being considered by the Ravens.

"I think the day went very well," said Thomas. "Ozzie Newsome and David Modell showed me the facilities and we talked about some of the players, what they expected and what I can possibly bring to this organization. They still have some more candidates to interview, especially from playoff teams, so we'll just have to wait and see how things work out."

The Ravens had five players chosen for the Pro Bowl and a sixth as an alternate. Young standout defenders such as middle linebacker Ray Lewis, outside linebacker Peter Boulware and defensive end Michael McCrary give the Ravens a solid chance of winning right away, in the eyes of some. The Ravens also have a new stadium, which is another attractive element in luring a new coach.

"Being so close and playing each other in preseason, we know something about personnel here," said Thomas. "When I found out I was getting an opportunity here, I took some film down. Defensively, they got some talent. Offensively, they got some talent, too. But quite naturally, you could say the same thing about the Eagles. A lot of them didn't play up to their capabilities either, which is why I'm looking for a job."

The Eagles were ranked No. 17 in total defense last year.

Thomas said he wasn't told by Modell he had to win right away, but he already knows that. It's the norm.

"I hate to hear people talk about three or four years or rebuilding," said Thomas, who was interviewed by the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams for head coaching jobs two years ago. "I think if they go out and get the pieces for you, keep guys healthy and catch a couple of breaks, I see no reason you can't win.

"You've got to thrive on winning. These guys don't want to hear you coming in and saying it's going to take two or three years. You've got to win next year. I'd be a fool to say we're going to the Super Bowl, but you've got to win now, get in the playoffs and win the division. We have to find that mechanism that triggers winning."

Thomas' demeanor is supposedly similar to that of former Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda's. He has a soft voice, but he is also a strong disciplinarian. He learned some of that from former Eagles coach Ray Rhodes.

"I pride myself in being a teacher, a guy who interacts very well," said Thomas. "I'm not a media hog, but a hard worker, I have a passion for the game. Fortunately, I was able to play a game that I love. Coaching keeps you around young people, and life is about competition. A lot of stockbrokers never know if they're a success until the quarter or until the end of the year, but here you get to see it week to week, the highs and the lows.

"My style is similar to Ray's as far as organization, trying to hire good people around you and letting players have a voice," said Thomas. "He is probably louder than I am. I'm more conservative, but I think my way is still the best way of getting your point across. I think the motivation and discipline all run hand and hand."

Thomas was a defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1966 through 1978, and worked on the staff at Central Missouri State a year later. He was with the St. Louis Cardinals' staff from 1981 through 1985 and was the Washington Redskins' secondary coach from 1986 through 1994. He became the Eagles' defensive coordinator under Rhodes in 1995.

Ravens team officials had little to say about Thomas' visit, and they plan to stay that way during the entire coaching search.

"It's good that a quality candidate like Emmitt is interested in us," said Art Modell.

The Ravens, Eagles and Seahawks were the three teams that got permission to speak with Holmgren, and the Ravens also made their initial contact with Holmgren's agent, Bob Lamont, yesterday. Seattle also is bringing in candidates Dom Capers and Rhodes later this week, according to a league source who said Seattle and Baltimore had better chances of signing Holmgren than the Eagles.

A Ravens source said the team would make a full-court press for Holmgren, considered the prized coach of the coaching carousel this off-season. Holmgren has an 84-41 record and is 1-1 in the Super Bowl during seven seasons with the Packers. He spent six years with the 49ers as an assistant.

The Packers, though, want Holmgren to stay around and reportedly have offered him a four-year contract extension worth $3 million a year. Beginning yesterday, Holmgren has 21 days to either sign with a new club or remain with the Packers.

Pub Date: 1/05/99

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