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Ravens eye Holmgren, see Haslett; Steelers assistant today will interview for head coaching job; Packers coach up next; Holmgren gets to meet with Seattle owner


In less than a week, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has twice been the warm-up act for Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren.

Haslett, 43, is in Baltimore today interviewing for the Ravens' head coaching job. Holmgren, the top coaching candidate for several vacant jobs throughout the league, is expected to meet with Ravens owner Art Modell and his front-office staff tomorrow before finishing the final leg of his three-city tour Sunday in Philadelphia. Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia are Holmgren's jobs to turn down.

Holmgren went to dinner and was involved in talks with Seahawks owner Paul Allen last night. There was speculation Holmgren could delay his trip to Baltimore, but a Ravens official said the team was not prepared to alter its plans and Holmgren was expected to fly at noon today from Seattle to Baltimore on a jet chartered by the Ravens.

This is the second time this week Haslett has been upstaged by Holmgren. Haslett interviewed with Seattle Tuesday and flew in on a commercial jet. A photograph in a local newspaper showed Haslett, with two luggage bags in his hand, standing on a curb waiting for Seattle vice president Randy Mueller to drive him to the team's complex. Mueller was 10 minutes late.

In contrast, Holmgren, 50, was flown in Wednesday night on Allen's personal jet to a private hangar. Holmgren and his family were driven in a limousine to a downtown Seattle hotel, where Holmgren and agent Bob LaMonte met with team president Bob Whitsitt. Holmgren then spent several hours touring the Seattle training facility with Whitsitt and Mueller.

"Obviously, [Holmgren] is the key to all of this," Haslett said recently. "I think he has a great situation where he is at in Green Bay. To me, if I was head coach, I'd have a hard time leaving that situation. But I've never sat down and analyzed the whole situation."

According to a league source, Haslett covets the Ravens' job more than openings in Seattle and Chicago, two other teams that have interest in him. But if the Ravens can't reach an agreement with Holmgren, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick will become the team's top two candidates, a Ravens source said.

The Jaguars and Vikings are involved in playoff games this weekend, and the Ravens cannot interview them until their seasons end.

Haslett was the fourth-youngest defensive coordinator in the league this season and has been an NFL assistant with New Orleans and the Los Angeles Raiders.

Haslett has close ties with former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. There has been speculation that Haslett might want to rehire Lewis in Baltimore, but Lewis last night was headed to Charlotte, N.C., where he will be interviewed for an assistant's job on coach George Seifert's staff. Also, former Ravens quarterbacks coach Don Strock is likely to join the Chargers in the same capacity. San Diego hired Oregon State coach Mike Riley yesterday.

Holmgren had talked about signing with an owner who is committed to winning, but Allen is rarely found around Seattle's facilities. According to a league source, Holmgren's lack of access to Allen had become a problem in the negotiations. But Holmgren demanded -- and received -- a face-to-face meeting with Allen.

LaMonte has said Holmgren wants control of the franchise and seeks a community that meets the approval of his wife and youngest daughter.

"We've having a good day. It's been productive," said Whitsitt before leaving with Holmgren to join Allen for dinner last night. "Obviously, we still have more conversations to continue, which we will do into the evening."

Holmgren said: "We've had a good day getting to know Bob, Randy and the organization, and we will continue to talk. I have been impressed with a number of things, including the design of the new stadium."

The Packers have offered Holmgren a contract extension at $3 million a year, a price the Ravens are willing to meet. But the team will not bid more than $4 million a year. Denver coach Mike Shanahan, Seifert and New York Jets coach Bill Parcells are the NFL's highest-paid coaches, averaging about $2.5 million a year.

Pub Date: 1/08/99

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