Previous NFL experience rare consideraton for Davis

Originally Published: January 4, 2004
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

In the latest sign Al Davis might finally be ready to break with the past and hire a sideline boss with previous NFL head coaching experience, ESPN.com has learned the Oakland Raiders owner will meet with Dennis Green early this week, likely on Monday.

The former Minnesota Vikings head coach, now an ESPN studio analyst, interviewed for the Washington Redskins' vacancy on Friday and Saturday. He also met with Arizona Cardinals officials last Wednesday about their head coaching position.

Green will be the second potential candidate with previous NFL head coaching tenure to interview with Davis. The Raiders owner visited with Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders, head coach in San Diego 1986-88, in Kansas City on Friday afternoon.

Only once has Davis ever hired a coach with previous NFL experience. That was in 1997, when he brought in Joe Bugel, who had been a head coach in Arizona 1990-93. He was fired by Davis after one season and a 4-12 record. The current opening was created last week when the Raiders fired Bill Callahan after just two seasons.

Traditionally, Davis hires former NFL coordinators or position coaches. The perception is that Davis does not want a head coach who might become too powerful or who might debunk the owner's suggestions.

But given the Raiders' current situation, with the franchise perhaps at a crossroads, Davis might find experience a coveted commodity.

As first reported by ESPN.com last Thursday night, senior assistant Bruce Allen, who handles most of the contract negotiations in Oakland and also managed the Raiders' cap, has interviewed for the Tampa Bay general manager position. Should he land the Buccaneers job, Allen could take Raiders standout personnel scout Mike Lombardi with him.

Coupled with the mid-season retirement of longtime Davis confidant Al LoCasale, and the dismissal of Callahan, the football operation could be in a significant state of flux.

Davis has flirted with the notion of hiring Green in the past. The two talk frequently and, as Green once noted, "have danced the [mating] dance a lot in the past." The relationship dates back to Green's stint as Stanford's head coach.

Green, 54, posted a record of 101-70 with the Vikings and took the team to the playoffs eight times in 10 seasons (1992-2001) with the club.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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