Strahan, Sapp, Ogden among Hall of Fame finalists


CANTON, Ohio — Single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan and two players who tried to block him are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Strahan, who had 22 sacks in 2001 and 141 for his 15-year his career with the New York Giants, is joined by offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens and guard-tackle Larry Allen of the Cowboys and 49ers.

The fourth first-year eligible to make the cut is defensive tackle Warren Sapp of the Buccaneers and Raiders.

Strahan, Ogden and Sapp all won Super Bowls.

The hall announced Friday that the other finalists are running back Jerome Bettis; receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed; LB-DEs Charles Haley and Kevin Greene; guard Will Shields; defensive back Aeneas Williams; coach Bill Parcells; and former owners Edward DeBartolo Jr. of the 49ers and the late Art Modell of the Browns, who moved to Baltimore in 1996 to become the Ravens.

The two senior nominees are defensive tackle Curley Culp — who played for the Chiefs, Oilers and Lions — and linebacker Dave Robinson of the Packers and Redskins.

Between four and seven new members will be selected Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in New Orleans.

Bettis played for the Rams and Steelers — he won the 2006 Super Bowl in his final game, something Strahan did in 2008. He’s in his third season of eligibility and was beaten out by fellow running backs Marshall Faulk in 2011 and Curtis Martin in 2012 for the hall.

Carter, Brown and Reed all were in the top 10 in receptions when they retired. Haley won five Super Bowls, two with San Francisco and three with Dallas.

Greene was one of the first hybrid linebacker-end defenders, which best suited his pass-rushing skills.

Shields was an ironman blocker for 14 seasons in Kansas City. Williams was a versatile defensive back who played on the corner and at safety. He had 55 career interceptions and 23 fumble recoveries.

Cowboys hire Kiffin

to replace Rob Ryan

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys hired former Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin as the replacement for Rob Ryan on Friday.

The team announced the move on its website a day after the 72-year-old Kiffin was at team headquarters to interview with coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones.

The hiring of Kiffin means the Cowboys will switch back to the 4-3 defense after going to the 3-4 under Bill Parcells in 2005. The most notable switch will be Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware becoming a defensive end, and Anthony Spencer could make the same move if the Cowboys re-sign him.

Kiffin hasn’t coached in the NFL since ending a 13-year run in Tampa in 2008. He spent the past few years coaching in college with his son, Lane Kiffin, at Tennessee and Southern California.

At Tampa, Kiffin’s defenses frequently were among the league’s best, and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl with him after the 2002 season. That unit was the first in the league since the champion Chicago Bears in 1985 to lead the NFL in total defense, points allowed and interceptions.

Ryan was fired Tuesday after two seasons. His defenses were inconsistent pressuring the quarterback and didn’t force many turnovers. In 2011, the Cowboys allowed the second-most passing yards in franchise history. This season’s injury-plagued unit couldn’t stop New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and rookie Washington running back Alfred Morris in season-ending losses that kept Dallas out of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Kiffin turns 73 next month.

Seattle’s Lynch likely

to play at Atlanta

RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a sprained foot but is probable and expected to play Sunday against Atlanta.

Coach Pete Carroll said Lynch got work in practice Friday for the first time this week and looked fine. Asked what it would take for Lynch not to play, Carroll cracked, “Miss the flight? Doesn’t show up in Atlanta?”

Lynch rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown in last week’s wild-card round win over Washington. He did not participate in practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Wide receiver Sidney Rice did not practice Friday with a knee injury but was listed as probable. Reserve safety Jeron Johnson was questionable with a hamstring, and reserve cornerback Byron Maxwell is doubtful (hamstring).

Carroll said newly signed backup defensive end Patrick Chukwurah will likely be active for Sunday’s game.

Trestman denies

Bears coaching rumor

CHICAGO — Longtime NFL assistant and current CFL coach Marc Trestman is denying a rumor that the Chicago Bears are set to hire him.

In an email to the Montreal Gazette on Friday, Trestman said he had not heard from the Bears, who fired coach Lovie Smith after the season.

Earlier, Fox analyst and former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson tweeted that it “looks like 2 of my guys getting NFL jobs … Chud Cleveland and my QB coach at U Trestman to Chicago.”

Nine hours later, Johnson tweeted: “It LOOKS like 2 of my guys were getting NFL jobs not that Trestman got it!”

Trestman, who coaches the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, interviewed with the Bears this week. He was on Johnson’s staff at Miami in the 1980s.

Eagles will interview

Jay Gruden on Monday

PHILADELPHIA — One of the Gruden brothers will interview with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Just not the people’s choice.

The Eagles are scheduled to meet with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday, continuing their slow search to replace Andy Reid.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski already have interviewed seven candidates since firing Reid on Dec. 31, and have permission to speak to two other coordinators.

Gruden, the younger brother of Jon Gruden, just finished his second season in Cincinnati. He previously served as an offensive assistant on his brother’s staff in Tampa Bay from 2002-08. He also coached several years in the AFL, winning the Arena Bowl title twice.

Jon Gruden, currently an ESPN analyst, has been on top of the fans’ wish list long before Reid was fired. He led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in 2002, beating the Eagles in the NFC championship along the way.

Former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil said this week Jon Gruden would be his choice if the decision was his, but the team hasn’t expressed any interest in him or former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

The Eagles are expected to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. No dates have been set for either.

Redskins fans

‘Hogettes’ retiring

WASHINGTON — The Hogettes will oink no more.

The group of male fans who have cheered on the Washington Redskins for three decades while wearing dresses, floppy hats and pig snouts announced Friday that the group is retiring.

The Hogettes said on their website that it’s a “new era.” They say they’ll still be Redskins fans and will be continue to help raise money for children’s charities — although in more “incognito” fashion.

Hogettes founder Michael Torbert told The Washington Post that 30 seasons is “enough of guys in pig snouts and dresses.”

The Hogettes began in 1983, when they started putting on dresses to entertain patients at children’s hospitals.