LOS ANGELES — Owner Al Davis of the Raiders, though he has not made his decision, is leaning toward one man for the team's vacant head coaching job, The Associated Press learned Wednesday.
Davis' chief candidate is believed to be either Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers' assistant coach Dennis Green or one of three Raider assistants: Charlie Sumner, Tom Walsh and Sam Gruneisen.
It also was learned that Washington Redskins' assistant coach Joe Bugel, who reportedly withdrew as a candidate, was told recently by Davis that he was not the top contender for the job, as was reported.
Davis has been conducting interviews since the beginning of February and apparently still intends to take more time to consider his options.
The job has been vacant since Tom Flores announced his retirement on Jan. 20 after nine years in the position. Davis said at that time he hoped to hire a replacement by the time the NFL meetings begin March 14.
One Raider official who requested anonymity laughed at the term front-runner, since a number of candidates for the job have been reported to be the "front-runner" at various times.
"The imagination of some writers has gone to Fantasyland," the team official said. "No one has been told they're the top contender.
"Some have been told they're not the top contender. Some candidates are being told they're either no longer being considered or they're not the top contender. Several prospective candidates have been interviewed, but that doesn't mean they're serious candidates for the job."
Davis said Tuesday that Dan Henning, another Redskins' assistant, was told last Friday he was no longer being considered for the position. It was later reported erroneously that Henning withdrew as a contender for the job.
The Washington Times reported that Bugel withdrew as a candidate, quoting anonymous Redskin sources as saying the team's offensive line coach will remain with the defending Super Bowl champions. Bugel was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.