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Del Rio set to coach Jaguars

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003

The Jaguars hired Panthers defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as their coach Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

The 39-year-old former linebacker will be introduced at a news conference today, according to the AP, and contract details haven't been fully worked out, but Del Rio has accepted the job.

In Del Rio's season as coordinator for the Panthers, he helped them improve from 31st in the league to second in defense.

His signature moment came on opening day, when he ran onto the field and got in the middle of a celebratory pileup with the players during their 10-7 victory over Baltimore.

It's that kind of fire that owner Wayne Weaver sought when he released Tom Coughlin and went searching for a coach. He wanted someone who could reconnect with the community and help boost ticket sales. The Jaguars averaged 56,277 fans this season, down more than 11,000 from 1999, when the team made the AFC title game.

"When you look a guy in the eye and the chemistry's there, you know you've got your guy," Weaver told WJXT-TV in Jacksonville.

Hoping to build excitement right away, Weaver decided to make Del Rio's introductory news conference a public event. He'll hold it at the stadium and is inviting fans to attend.

Rhett files lawsuit

CLEVELAND -- Former Browns running back Errict Rhett is suing the team doctor and the Cleveland Clinic for what he believes was a misdiagnosis of the foot injury that ended his career.

Rhett, the ex-Buc, signed a three-year, $6-million contract with the Browns in 2000 but broke his foot in a game against Baltimore. He had surgery and tried to return in 2001.

John Bergfeld, a team doctor affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic, did not perform the surgery but cleared Rhett to play in July 2001. Two days later, Rhett was cut by the team. He has not played since.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Rhett argues his foot was not healed, and he needed at least two additional months of recovery time.

Mariucci speaks

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Ex-49ers coach Steve Mariucci said in a news conference his firing on Wednesday came as a surprise, and rejected talk he has made plans to be a TV commentator.

"I don't have a clue right now what I'm going to do or what I want to do," he said. "Will I coach again? I suppose so."

Three days after the 49ers' fourth trip to the playoffs under Mariucci ended in a 31-6 loss at Tampa Bay, owner John York released Mariucci from the final year of his contract. The men hugged Wednesday morning after a 90-minute meeting in which Mariucci tried to talk York out of the decision.

"I didn't think it was best to have a lame duck coach," York said. "I thought it best to have a coach we were fully committed to."

Dennis Green, who coached the Vikings from 1992-2001, is a logical candidate to replace Mariucci. Green was on coach-turned-adviser Bill Walsh's 49ers and Stanford staffs.

No blimps at Super Bowl

SAN DIEGO -- No blimps, banner-tow planes or other aircraft will be allowed within 7 miles of Qualcomm Stadium for most of the Super Bowl. The no-fly zone, which extends 18,000 feet above the stadium, will be enforced by U.S. military planes and the Customs Service.

COWBOYS: John McNulty (receivers) and Kacy Rodgers (defensive tackles) were named assistants.

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