Originally created 01/25/02

Fox returns for 2nd interview with Panthers



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New York Giants defensive coordinator John Fox interviewed a second time with the Carolina Panthers about their head coaching job and emerged Thursday as the front-runner to replace George Seifert.

Fox, who first interviewed with the Panthers last week, was brought in for his second meeting after team officials spent a day with Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.

Neither coordinator is Carolina's first - or even second - choice to become the next head coach.

The Panthers wanted Steve Spurrier, but he chose to coach the Washington Redskins. Then, after interviewing Fox, they made a run at Tony Dungy, who picked the Indianapolis Colts over Carolina.

But Fox felt confident the Panthers would not be disappointed if they end up choosing him.

"I'm very fortunate to be back again and it's a great opportunity and hopefully we can get something worked out," he said after arriving at the Charlotte airport. "I don't know that I am nervous. It's a great opportunity and I want to make sure everything is right for me and they want to make sure everything is right for them. It's a big decision for everyone involved."

The 46-year-old Fox was denied a good opportunity to be a head coach last season because he couldn't interview with anyone until the Giants were done playing. By the time New York lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl, only the Buffalo job was still available and Fox did not get that.

Just like the Super Bowl, Fox is going head to head with Lewis, who was with the Ravens when they beat the Giants. Fox didn't mind.

"Marvin and I have competed against each other for a long time in this league," Fox said. "I have high respect for him. May the best man win."

Whoever gets the job will inherit a team that lost an NFL-record 15 games in a season. The Panthers did not win after Week 1 and Seifert was fired the day after the regular-season finale.

Fox said he wanted the challenge of turning the team around.

"Obviously at 1-15, there is nowhere to go but up," he said.

Fox has spent 23 years coaching football, but has never been a head coach. He's spent the last five seasons working as the Giants' defensive coordinator and coached Michael Strahan as he set a new NFL sack record this season.