Originally created 01/16/97

Fassel returns as Giants coach



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Quarterback guru Jim Fassel was named the New York Giants coach on Wednesday, accepting the job of reviving the NFL's worst offense and developing Dave Brown into a bonafide quarterback.

Fassel, 47, takes over a team that has missed the playoffs the last three seasons and that has only made the postseason once since Bill Parcells resigned after the Super Bowl victory in January 1991.

A Giants assistant under Ray Handley in 1991 and '92, Fassel was given a four-year, $3.2 million contract to replace Dan Reeves, who was fired on Dec. 23 after New York (6-10) posted its second straight losing season.

"When I left here four years ago, there was something inside of me that I had a very good feeling about this organization, there was a lot of work that I felt was left to be done," said Fassel, who was the Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator last season. "I had a feeling that I wanted to come back here."

Fassel immediately named Brown as his starting quarterback in training camp. The choice of Brown over second-year pro Danny Kanell clearly avoided a quarterback controversy, something that plagued Handley during most of his tenure.

"In my determination, right now Dave Brown is the one closest to being ready to play," Fassel said. "He has more experience in the game. I don't see any .°.°. technical or physical flaws."

Fassel has been the leading contender since general manager George Young began his search, with the only serious challenge coming from Michigan State coach Nick Saban.

CHARGERS: Bobby Beathard interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Jacksonville offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on Tuesday for the vacant San Diego Chargers coaching job.

The general manager met twice with Fangio during the day and interviewed Gilbride Tuesday night. Beathard said he planned to meet again with Gilbride on Wednesday. The interviews took place in Mobile, Ala., site of Saturday's Senior Bowl.

"Both are very impressive guys," Beathard said by telephone. "Both are pretty much the same - they're both organized, are terrific coaches and both are ambitious. Both know where they want to go and how to get there. They see the big picture."

Fangio and Gilbride are among the top candidates to replace Bobby Ross, who resigned on Jan. 3 because of differences with Beathard. Ross became head coach of the Detroit Lions on Monday.

Fangio, 38, coordinated the blitzing schemes that helped carry the Panthers to the NFC championship game, where they were defeated by Green Bay. Gilbride, 45, helped develop quarterback Mark Brunell with the Jaguars, who lost the AFC championship game to New England.

Beathard interviewed former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Mora on Monday, but Mora isn't believed to be a front-runner.

COWBOYS: A year ago, the Dallas Cowboys were preparing for the Super Bowl. Now instead, they are preparing for or undergoing surgeries, including Wednesday's successful removal of bone spurs from running back Emmitt Smith's right ankle.

Today, it will be cornerback Deion Sanders' turn as a surgeon repairs the damage to his right orbital bone which occurred when he was tackled during the Cowboys playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Offensive tackle Mark Tuinei underwent successful surgery last week to repair a torn ligament in his left knee which had hampered him most of the season. Tuinei was expected to be ready by training camp in July.

Defensive end Chad Hennings had both elbows scoped for bone fragments last Friday and should be ready for the regular season.

Defensive tackle Charles Haley, who had his second back surgery in 13 months last November, met with Dr. Robert Watkins in California to discuss his situation. Later in February, tight end Jay Novacek, who missed the season with back problems, will seek Watkins' counsel.

PATRIOTS: Gov. William F. Weld, Mayor Thomas Menino and their aides worked Wednesday to plan a Super Bowl send-off for the New England Patriots, tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday in Boston.

The biggest decision was where to stage the festivities, which are expected to draw thousands of fans. Weld and Menino were considering the Statehouse steps, which would overflow onto Boston Common, as well as City Hall plaza and the Hatch Shell.

The entire team is expected to attend. Weld also planned to invite Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr., whose city was chosen as official host for the AFC championship last weekend.

Weld, however, had an unexpected interruption in his planning: a visit by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft stopped by the Statehouse, Fox TV crew in tow, to tape color scenes for the network, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl between the Patriots and Green Bay Packers.

IRSAY'S LEGACY: Robert Irsay left a legacy of good will in his adopted hometown and an NFL franchise whose worth could force millions of dollars in inheritance taxes on his son.

The 73-year-old owner of the Indianapolis Colts died Tuesday, more than a year after he suffered a stroke. A funeral service will be held Saturday at St. Luke Catholic Church.

"Mr. Irsay had an estate plan. He was very specific in his wishes and desires," said Michael Chernoff, the Colts' executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Financial World magazine in May listed the total value of the Colts franchise at $141 million. The federal inheritance tax rate of 55 percent poses a potentially crushing burden on a team already negotiating with the city for a better financial package.

A month ago, Irsay's son, Jim, said the Colts would not be sold and would not take on an outside partner to pay inheritance taxes.

The younger Irsay, the Colts senior executive vice president, general manager and chief operating officer, had taken control of the team's day-to-day operations even before his father's illness.