EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (June 16, 2006) -- Tim Lewis is ready to be an NFL head coach. It just won't be this year.
Lewis is back for a third season as the New York Giants defensive coordinator after failing to land a head coaching job for the second straight year -- even though he was considered one of the assistants at the top of the list when the coaching searches started.
The Packers, Lions, Jets and one other team interviewed Lewis after last season but chose someone else.
Lewis accepts the choices.
"They didn't work out, but I am fortunate to have a job with the New York Giants," Lewis said. "If things go right and I do my job and keep my nose to the grindstone and the product we put out there is good enough, maybe I'll get another opportunity."
Lewis, who gets to talk to the media only a few times a year under coach Tom Coughlin's restrictive policy for assistants, is excited about the Giants' chances this year coming off an 11-5 record and an NFC East title.
New York signed inebacker LaVar Arrington and shored up a porous secondary with cornerbacks Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters and safety Will Demps. First-round draft pick Mathias Kiwanuka should help a pass rush that features Pro Bowl defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora and a healthy Antonio Pierce is back at middle linebacker.
Lewis had a couple of interviews after the Giants struggled in 2004 in Coughlin's first season as coach, and he had four more this offseason when 10 jobs were up for grabs.
Only one opening went to a black coach: Art Shell in Oakland. Another, Herman Edwards went from the New York Jets to Kansas City and the Jets hired Eric Mangini, so the net increase in black coaches was one, to seven.
"No disappointment, and not much wondering," said Lewis, who was a defensive coordinator for four seasons in Pittsburgh before coming to the Giants. "It was a great opportunity. I went out on a couple of interviews. It was a good opportunity for me to learn and grow. I'm excited about being back."
Strahan was surprised Lewis didn't get a job.
"Owners are owners, they hire who they want," Strahan said. "He did a great job with us. He held us together when we were falling apart (with injuries). Hopefully, next year, the opportunity will come around."
Lewis needed surgery in May to correct a neck injury he suffered playing for Green Bay against the Bears in 1986. He was paralyzed for a short time and retired three days later.
Taking a shower last month, Lewis had his right arm go limp.
After a series of tests, surgeons relieved pressure on his spinal canal. While he still is undergoing some rehabilitation, everything seemingly is OK.
Coughlin is glad to have Lewis back.
"Not that I would ever stand in the way of his advancement, but I think it has given us one more plus for this year," Coughlin said. "And I think Tim knows that if he continues to work hard, and we succeed as a team, that he will have his opportunity."