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NFL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001

Rams dump defensive coordinator, 3 others

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams fired defensive coordinator Peter Giunta and two of his assistants Tuesday, along with special-teams coach Larry Pasquale.

The fired defensive assistants were line coach Carl Hairston and secondary coach Steve Brown. The moves came three days after the New Orleans Saints eliminated the defending Super Bowl champions from the post-season 31-28 in a wild-card game.

"Decisions like this are not easy," coach Mike Martz said in a statement. "They are good coaches and good men, but I feel we need a new direction on defense and on special teams."

The Rams allowed 30 points a game, the highest by a playoff team, and their defense ranked 23rd. It ranked sixth last season, and the only new starter was strong safety Devin Bush.

The special teams lost three onside kicks.

Giunta, Hairston and Brown were holdovers from the staff of Dick Vermeil, who retired after winning the Super Bowl last year. Pasquale was added to the staff after Frank Gansz unexpectedly resigned.

Surviving the purge on defense were linebackers coach Mike Haluchak and assistant Howard Tippett, both hired by Martz.

ATTENDANCE RECORD: The league set a regular-season paid attendance record for the third consecutive year. Almost 16.4-million tickets were bought for an average of 66,078. Paid attendance is the number of tickets purchased. Actual attendance usually is lower. The NFL doesn't keep actual attendance figures, spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

BRONCOS: Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who helped Denver win Super Bowls in the 1997 and '98 seasons, was fired amid criticism of shoddy tackling and the unit's lack of passion. The team said coach Mike Shanahan would discuss his decision Thursday.

CARDINALS: Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and three other assistants were fired as coach Dave McGinnis started his promised shake-up.

Trestman had been offensive coordinator since 1998. Quarterbacks coach John Garrett, tight ends coach Don Lawrence and wide receivers coach Vic Rapp also were dismissed.

Trestman, offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers under George Seifert in 1995-96, was highly criticized for an offense that ranked 24th overall, 27th in rushing and 17th in passing.

CHARGERS: President Dean Spanos planned to meet this week with former Buffalo Bills general manager John Butler, the leading candidate to become San Diego's GM. The two met last week in Denver. Spanos said he has spoken with two other candidates; he would not identify them.

JETS: Bill Parcells met with owner Woody Johnson to discuss his role with the team and where the organization is headed. The team made no announcements about the meeting, which was expected to include Johnson asking Parcells if he wanted to coach again. Al Groh resigned as coach Saturday to coach at the University of Virginia.

Parcells' contract with the team expires Jan. 31.

PATRIOTS: Cornerback Ty Law notified the union he intends to appeal the one-game suspension coach Bill Belichick imposed on him after he was caught with the drug ecstasy by U.S. Customs officials at the Canadian border Dec. 18.

Law's agent, Carl Poston, has 45 days to file a grievance seeking to retrieve about $87,500, which would have been Law's paycheck for the Dec. 24 season finale against the Dolphins.

Law said the drug belonged to his cousin, but he paid a $700 administrative fine at the scene and was let go. The detainment forced Law to miss an early-morning flight to Boston and a team meeting.

TEXANS: Expansion Houston won't have a coach until 2002, general manager Charley Casserly said. The Texans begin play in 2002.

CARRUTH TRIAL: The Rae Carruth murder trial resumed in Charlotte, N.C., and defense attorney David Rudolf said he would decide "shortly" whether to call the former Panthers receiver to the witness stand to rebut testimony that he masterminded the 1999 shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend.

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