Whatever Oakland Raiders linebackers coach Don Martindale said Saturday during his nearly five-hour interview for the team's vacant defensive coordinator position seems to have resonated with his boss, who is considering doing Martindale one better.
Sources say owner Al Davis is seriously considering naming Martindale the team's next head coach.
Davis also has spoken to interim coach Tom Cable and Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride about the head coach position. Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates and Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley are said to also be on Davis' radar. And former NFL head coach Jim Fassel has expressed interest in the job.
Hiring a head coach with a defensive background would be a departure from Davis' trend of hiring head coaches whose expertise is offense, but the last time Davis went with a defensive coach it worked out quite well -- he promoted linebackers coach John Madden to head coach in 1969. Madden went 103-32-7 with a victory in Super Bowl XI.
Raiders senior executive John Herrera denied to the San Jose Mercury News that the team was considering Martindale for promotion to the top job.
"It is true that Mr. Davis met with Martindale [on Saturday] ... but it had nothing to do with [him] becoming a head coach," Herrera told the newspaper.
Martindale, the Raiders linebackers coach since 2004, is something of a hot commodity around the league.
The Broncos and Browns would like to add him to their coaching staffs, and the Jets and Ravens are expected to make Martindale offers if, as many league sources and observers expect, the Jets name Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan as their head coach.
Martindale is one of Davis' most loyal and respectful coaches, and Davis is said to have great affection for him. The possibility of losing him could prompt the owner to end his search by naming Martindale, 45, the head man.
Martindale is a coaching free agent and it remains unclear whether he'll accept Oakland's defensive coordinator position if not named head coach.
Michael Smith covers the NFL for ESPN.