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Raiders closing in on Payton

The Oakland Raiders appeared close to hiring Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Sean Payton as their new head coach.

Yesterday, several news organizations reported that Payton would receive a four-year contract to replace Bill Callahan, fired after a 4-12 season.

"Nobody's confirming or denying anything around here," Raiders spokesman Artie Gigantino said.

The 40-year-old Payton, who would become the league's youngest head coach, met with owner Al Davis for a second interview this week.

More G-men

Mike Waufle was hired as defensive line coach for the New York Giants yesterday after spending the last six seasons with the Raiders.

Coach Tom Coughlin also selected Bill Davis to coach linebackers and Ron Milus to work with the defensive backs. Mike Sullivan was named the receivers coach, and Andy Barnett was selected as the assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Manning up first

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay's first order of business in the offseason is to sign quarterback Peyton Manning to a long-term contract, and hopes to do it by March 1. Irsay said he was willing to give the co-MVP a deal that exceeds contracts signed by Green Bay's Brett Favre, Tennessee's Steve McNair, and Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb, who signed a 12-year deal for $115 million . . . Steelers coach Bill Cowher promoted tight ends coach Ken Whisenhunt to offensive coordinator. Offensive line coach Russ Grimm added the title of assistant head coach . . . Former Detroit Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg was promoted to assistant head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. The 41-year-old Mornhinweg served as a senior assistant this season with the Eagles after spending two years as head coach of the Lions . . . Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, 81, did not renew Jeff Diamond's contract as team president to take the job back for himself. Diamond was hired in July 1999, and the Titans went 56-24 in that stretch with one AFC Championship.

Tuning in

The local rating for Sunday's Patriots-Colts AFC Championship game was adjusted from 47.2 to 46.5 yesterday. The rating includes the quarter-hour from 3-3:15 p.m. The game remains the sixth-highest rated Patriots game in the Boston market and third-most watched in terms of local households. Nationally, the game drew a larger TV audience than the NFC title game for just the third time. CBS Sports' broadcast of New England's 24-14 win drew a rating of 26.6, the highest rating for an AFC Championship game since 1999. The rating was 1 percent higher than last season's Oakland-Tennessee matchup.

Bill Griffith of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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