Broncos owner Pat Bowlen's search for coach Mike Shanahan's successor begins today with a trip to the East Coast.
Bowlen and chief operating officer Joe Ellis will meet in New York with Steve Spagnuolo, who has been the Giants' defensive coordinator the past two seasons. The 49-year-old Spagnuolo was the architect of the pass rush that stymied Tom Brady and the Patriots in last year's Super Bowl, and has helped the Giants earn the top seed in the playoffs this season.
Then it's on to Boston, where they will interview Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels, 32, offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick.
Tampa Bay assistant coach Raheem Morris, also 32, is the first candidate who will travel to Denver for his shot at the job. He'll interview at team headquarters Wednesday. Morris will replace Monte Kiffin as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator if he doesn't land the head coaching job in Denver.
The Broncos also are reaching out to other coaches to gauge interest, and high atop the wish list is believed to be Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who is preparing his second-ranked Sooners to face No. 1 Florida in the BCS championship game in Miami Thursday.
Bowlen said he wants to hire a coach and then a GM, a reversal of the traditional process that could eliminate some candidates who would presumably want a say in hiring the coach.
Jets meet with pair
The New York Jets met with assistants Bill Callahan
and Brian Schottenheimer
for the team's coaching vacancy, kicking off the first round of interviews as they seek a replacement for the fired Eric Mangini
. Spagnuolo will also interview with the Jets today.
The Jets have received permission to speak with Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, but won't be able to meet with him until the Ravens' season is over or during the bye before the Super Bowl, if they make it.
Callahan, who coached the offensive line, joined Mangini's staff last offseason after he was fired as coach at Nebraska. Schottenheimer has been the Jets' offensive coordinator the last three seasons after serving as quarterbacks coach from 2002-05 under his father, Marty, at San Diego.
James wants out Edgerrin James
said he expects the Arizona Cardinals' last game of the season will be his last with the team. James told ESPN.com
he won't return to the NFC West champions next season, even though he has a year remaining on his contract. "I can't go through this again," James said. "I didn't come here to block. I'm not an offensive lineman." James lost his starting job to rookie Tim Hightower
after seven games and carried the ball only 11 times in the next eight contests . . . Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel
was held out of practice with a hip injury and is listed as questionable for tomorrow's divisional playoff game against Minnesota. Samuel strained his hip in Thursday's practice . . . Colts rookie offensive linemen Mike Pollak
and Jamey Richard
did not travel with the team to San Diego, and will not play today in an AFC wild-card game. Pollak, a starting guard, and Richard, a backup center, did not practice all week because of ankle injuries they sustained in last week's regular-season finale against Tennessee. Coach Tony Dungy
has said that if Pollak cannot play, Dan Federkeil
would start in his place . . . The NFL has given the Vikings one last chance to sell out the Metrodome for tomorrow's playoff game against Philadelphia. The Vikings have until 4:30 p.m. today to sell the remaining 3,100 tickets to avoid a television blackout in local markets. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have sold enough tickets to today's game against Atlanta for it to be televised in the Phoenix area. The NFL gave the team two 24-hour extensions, the last expiring yesterday afternoon. About 2,400 tickets remained yesterday morning.
Jets' Jones backs off
Jets running back Thomas Jones
clarified his critical comments this week about Brett Favre
, saying he would expect the veteran quarterback to answer questions the same way about him if he had performed poorly in a key game. "I've got most respect for Brett," Jones said on ESPN's "First Take." "He's one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He's a great teammate, you know he brought a lot to our team this year." Favre threw three interceptions in the Jets' season-ending 24-17 loss to Miami that clinched the AFC East for the Dolphins. In a radio interview this week, Jones said Favre should have been pulled from the game . . . Buffalo Bills safety Ko Simpson
was arrested outside a bar in Rock Hill, S.C., after he refused to leave officers alone as they arrested two men, according to a police report. Simpson was in a car that was speeding through the bar's parking lot around 2 a.m. New Year's Day. The driver and another passenger in the car were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Simpson then began yelling at officers, saying "I'm Ko Simpson with the Buffalo Bills. I am worth millions!" several times.
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