Ex-Giants coach not concerned with futility

Updated: January 4, 2004, 5:07 AM ET
Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, 24 hours after finishing two days of meetings with the Washington Redskins.

Criticized for being too close to his players in New York and not enough of a disciplinarian, Fassel said last week that he was interested in the perpetually out-of-control Arizona Cardinals.

He isn't discouraged because the Cardinals have made the playoffs only once in 16 seasons in Arizona.

"In today's game, it's so much different than in pre-salary cap and free agency days," Fassel said. "You do your homework, you draft your guys and keep some guys healthy, and you can grow pretty quick in this league.

"You've got to have everybody on the same page and moving in the same direction, but you can move fast, up or down."

The Giants' 4-12 record -- the same as the Cardinals -- is proof of that. New York was considered a preseason contender for the Super Bowl, but lost early games it appeared to have wrapped up against NFC East playoff teams Philadelphia and Dallas.

Then the Giants sustained season-ending injuries to several key performers -- including three-quarters of their secondary, Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey and quarterback Kerry Collins -- and finished with eight consecutive losses.

Fassel, a 54-year-old former Cardinals offensive coordinator, made the playoffs in three of his seven seasons with the Giants. He led them to two NFC East championships and took his 2000 team to the Super Bowl.

But the Giants -- with their worst record in 20 years -- announced his firing Dec. 16 at his request, with an agreement that he coach the last two games.

Fassel, 60-56-1 with the Giants, spent more than 12 hours with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in San Francisco on Friday. After visiting with Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill, vice president Michael Bidwill and football operations vice president Rod Graves, Fassel said he would interview next for the openings in Chicago and Buffalo.

He is the fourth candidate interviewed by Arizona since coach Dave McGinnis was fired Monday.

Dennis Green got a tour of the Cardinals' headquarters on Wednesday. Graves and Bidwills spoke with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson in Philadelphia on Thursday, then traveled north to interview New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel on Friday.

Fassel was Vince Tobin's first offensive coordinator in 1996, and is thought to have an inside track on the job because of Bill Bidwill's fondness for former employees.

"I was looking forward to this trip," Fassel said. "I had a great relationship with the Bidwills when I came here, and they treated me very well."

Fassel didn't bite on questions about the franchise's history of futility -- so bad that the fan base has dwindled to around 20,000. The Cardinals plan to have an indoor stadium in 2006.

"There haven't been any specific decisions made about this," Fassel said or the Cardinals. "I've got my set of questions, they've got their set of questions to ask.

"But it seems like there's an attitude right now -- and, of course, I'm having a different level of talks right now than when I was here as an assistant -- but I definitely feel a sense that they want to be really good."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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