ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Rarely is such a fuss made over the hiring of a pair of assistant coaches.
But the coaches are Ray Rhodes and Foge Fazio, two experienced NFL hands willing to take a step down the career ladder to fix the Washington Redskins' defense.
Rhodes was hired as defensive coordinator Monday, while Fazio will be linebackers coach for a defense that allowed more yards this season than any team except the expansion Cleveland Browns.
Rhodes was fired by Green Bay two weeks ago after going 8-8 in his only season as team's head coach. He previously had a 30-36-1 record over four seasons in Philadelphia, where two playoff appearances were followed by free-agent defections and two losing seasons that left a sour taste all around.
Fazio, 60, also is moving down the ranks, having resigned last week as defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.
Jets name Groh coach
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Al Groh stepped to the podium before a packed auditorium at the New York Jets' headquarters at Hofstra and added some comic relief to a hectic few weeks.
After thanking new Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson IV for hiring him to replace the retired Bill Parcells, Groh went for the funny bone.
''I felt a special bonding with Woody right from the start because here of late,'' he began, ''he and I are the only two people who have come to this microphone to tell you we intend to stay.''
Imagine that. Since the Jets finished the season at 8-8, Parcells stepped down on Jan. 3 and his hand-picked successor, Bill Belichick, stunned the club by resigning a day later during a news conference called for his official introduction.
A week later, Johnson purchased the Jets for $630 million from the estate of Leon Hess.
Jordan suits up for practice
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Jordan put on a No. 23 Washington Wizards jersey and gave his new team a lesson in intensity.
Practicing with the Wizards for the first time, Jordan dribbled, dunked, scrimmaged and coached during Monday's two-hour workout. Most of all, he motivated -- trash-talking a punchless team that's been going nowhere all season.
''I told them they shouldn't have to wait for me to come out to show the energy that they had today,'' Jordan said. ''I just tried to keep them focused, challenge them, say whatever I have to say. If they can play hard against me, they can play hard against anybody.''
Jordan, who last week became a Wizards part-owner and president of basketball operations, was the first to arrive. He ragged on Rod Strickland for being less than punctual and let everyone know he was in charge, even ordering the media to leave when they entered the gym at the usual time to watch the end of practice.
''He's a competitive guy,'' forward Juwan Howard said. ''Of course, we all know he's one of the biggest trash talkers, so that makes it more intense. I enjoy that the most. I feed off that type of energy, when you're talking trash. He's going to push you. When you're 13-29, that's what this team needs.''
The most awkward feeling had to belong to coach Gar Heard, who had the unusual circumstance of trying to coach a team through a practice with a boss-owner-legend on the floor.
''I would feel a lot better if he was out there tomorrow night,'' said Heard, referring to tonight's home game against New York.
By all accounts, Jordan showed he hadn't lost a step, although he wasn't in shape to go the full two hours without taking breaks. He took part in two scrimmages -- on the winning team once, the losing team once -- and looked a bit winded when he walked up the steps after practice.
''I'm learning. It's a challenge,'' Jordan said. ''People have low expectations about what can happen here. It's all fine and good. I've been in worse scenarios, but the good thing about it is we have only one way we can go. That's up. We can't go any further down.''
Since Jordan became part of the operation, the Wizards (13-29) have been their usual frustratingly inconsistent selves. They lost at home to Dallas, beat Indiana at home, then were routed by Atlanta on the road.
Jordan, who is trying to be a commuter-president, watched the Indiana and Atlanta games on TV at home in Chicago. He reached the same two conclusions everyone else has:
-- The Wizards have talent, but no chemistry.
-- The Wizards won't have salary cap room for three years, so it's the current roster of players that is going to have to play better if there's any short-term hope.
''You've got three solid players, Mitch Richmond, Rod Strickland and Juwan Howard,'' Jordan said. ''The point is getting them to play with the continuity and the chemistry it takes to play basketball. All three of the base guys have played effectively in the years past, and it shouldn't be any reason why they can't do that now.''
Jordan's biggest challenge could be Strickland. Heard, an old-school coach, has clashed with Strickland in an effort to get the point guard to show up on time and become a team leader -- to no avail.
''You try to be an example in that sense,'' Jordan said. ''You're going to work a little harder. If that means I have to come in and chastise and make people get up and get here early ... Rod got here 15 minute before practice, so I made sure I told him if I have to come by and pick him up tomorrow, he'd better be here a little bit earlier.''
Strickland was gone by the time Jordan made those comments, but Heard thinks the message got through.
''I think you might see a lot of guys a little earlier tomorrow,'' Heard said.
While Jordan may be a novice on the management front, he admits his ability to evaluate players on the court is unique among front-office types.
''That's one of the advantages I may have about this position -- that I can get out there,'' Jordan said. ''That's part of my evaluation without a doubt.''
Jordan said he will keep practicing with the team as long as his body can take it.
''I think it's fun,'' Jordan said. ''I still love the game, don't get me wrong. I don't want to take away from their progress. If anything, I want to enhance their progress.''
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