Jim Fassel (right) has stepped up his campaign to become an NFL head coach again in the most interesting of ways.
ESPN.com quoted a team source as saying that Fassel recently sent a handwritten letter to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, expressing his respect and admiration for Davis and his desire to coach the embattled franchise.
Fassel last worked in the league as the Ravens' offensive coordinator, from 2003 until his dismissal midway through the 2006 season. He was head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 until the team fired him after the 2003 season. Fassel was 60-56-1 in seven seasons with the Giants and led the club to the January 2001 Super Bowl against the Ravens.
Davis fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 30 after Oakland started 1-3, with the job going to offensive line coach Tom Cable on an interim basis. The Raiders are 1-5 under Cable. Kiffin, meanwhile, has filed a grievance against Davis in an attempt to collect the remaining money on his contract.
STEELERS: : The first 11-10 game in NFL history shouldn't have ended that way, referee Scott Green said after a last-minute touchdown by safety Troy Polamalu was taken away from the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday. The officiating mistake didn't keep the Steelers from winning, but the touchdown would have changed the score to 17-10 - or, more likely, 18-10, since the teams were lined up for an extra-point try that was never attempted.After watching the play, Green announced the ruling on the field was upheld and the touchdown counted. But the officiating crew huddled again before the extra-point attempt and changed the call, deciding that an illegal forward pass by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers should have ended the play. In a postgame review with a pool reporter, Green said that call was wrong - even though his explanation for the confusion was almost as confusing as the play itself. "We should have let the play go through in the end, yes," Green said. Green said the confusion occurred because there was a misunderstanding about whether Rivers' pass or LaDainian Tomlinson's attempted lateral that followed was in question. "The first pass was the one that was illegal, but it only kills the play if it hits the ground," Green said. "That was incorrect to have killed it at that point. The ruling should have let the play go on. That's just the way that it played out. We believe the second pass [by Tomlinson] was legal." The officials realized afterward they erred. "I know," Green said. "The rule was misinterpreted."
TESTING: : The NFL will conduct hearings today and tomorrow for most of eight pending cases of players who tested for banned supplements under the league's steroid and performance-enhancement policy, ESPN reported, quoting unidentified sources. Those cases include Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, the New Orleans Saints' Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant, and the Atlanta Falcons' Grady Jackson.