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NFL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2001

Browns change direction, fire coach

BEREA, Ohio -- Chris Palmer was fired Thursday as coach of the Cleveland Browns after winning five games in two seasons and losing the trust of his players and the confidence of the club's front office.

The Browns were 2-14 and 3-13 since returning to the league under Palmer, who didn't have NFL head-coaching experience when the Browns hired him to lead the expansion team.

Team president Carmen Policy announced Palmer's firing at Browns headquarters.

"It's not the way we wanted things to go," Policy said. "We had hoped, from the bottom of our hearts, that our first coach ... would carry us all the way to the final goal. It was my opinion that Chris and his program were not headed in the direction that was appropriate for the team."

BENGALS: A day after Corey Dillon's agent said he rejected an eight-year contract offer, the running back informed the team that he fired his agent. Agent David Levine declined to comment on Dillon's decision. Levine said Wednesday that Dillon rejected an eight-year, $60-million offer that included a $12-million signing bonus. After reading Levine's comments in the media, Dillon called the Bengals and informed them he was changing agents. He told the team he was never informed of the club's offer.

BRONCOS: Strong safety Billy Jenkins was fined $7,500 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer.

CARDINALS: Tight end Chris Gedney, who battled back from serious injury and major colon surgery, won't be invited back.

DOLPHINS: Wide receiver Albert Johnson, the Canadian Football League's rookie of the year, was among six players signed by the team. Receiver Brian Alford, running backs Jay Johnson and Vaughn Sanders, offensive tackle Dan Palmer and defensive tackle Lamain Rucker also signed with Miami. In addition, offensive tackle Richmond Webb (right elbow) and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (right shoulder) had surgery. Both are expected to be ready for Miami's minicamps. ... Center Tim Ruddy was added to the AFC roster for the Pro Bowl, replacing injured Broncos center Tom Nalen.

49ERS: Running back Garrison Hearst had a fourth surgery on his left ankle, which has kept him out of football the past two seasons. "This was a routine procedure to clean up Garrison's ankle and improve his range of motion," team doctor Michael Dillingham said. "We were happy with the results. He should be running again within three to four weeks."

HALL OF FAME: Bill Parcells and Marv Levy, the opposing coaches in the 1991 Super Bowl, are among 15 finalists. Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. also is a finalist, as is linebacker Harry Carson, who played on the Giants team that beat Denver in the 1987 Super Bowl. Pittsburgh receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, who helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls from 1975-80, also made the list. Others are receiver Art Monk, tight end Dave Casper, defensive lineman Dan Hampton, cornerback Lester Hayes, guard Mike Munchak, tackles Jackie Slater and Ron Yary, and defensive end Jack Youngblood.

CARRUTH TRIAL: Closing arguments in the murder trial of former player Rae Carruth were postponed after the lead prosecutor became ill. Judge Charles Lamm said prosecutor Gentry Caudill was sick, then delayed closing arguments until Monday.

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