Four join Minnesota's Tice on coaching unemployment list

Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Almost as soon as the St. Louis Rams announced Monday that Mike Martz was out as head coach, they asked the Chicago Bears for permission to talk to Ron Rivera, their defensive coordinator.
Same thing in Houston: the Texans fired Dom Capers and asked Denver for permission to talk to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
Such is the way of the NFL. If there's a "hot" coaching prospect out there, try to get to him as soon as possible before the competition grabs him.
And there's a lot of competition this year.
Four coaches were let go on "Black Monday," the day after the regular season ends and the traditional day for firing coaches. Martz, Capers, Mike Sherman of Green Bay and Jim Haslett of New Orleans were canned.
They join Mike Tice of Minnesota, fired after the Vikings' final game on Sunday, and Dick Vermeil of Kansas City, who retired Sunday at the age of 69. With the firing of Detroit's Steve Mariucci in November, that brings the number of vacancies to seven, with the prospect of one more - Norv Turner of Oakland, who could learn his fate today.
That's not an unusual number, especially since there were just three new coaches this season. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, an average of 5.9 jobs per year opened up.
None of the firings were surprises. Haslett's job has been in question most of the season as the Saints, who finished 3-13, went through a chaotic period in which the team was driven from its home by Hurricane Katrina, settled in San Antonio, and played "home" games in three different stadiums - including its opener at Giants Stadium, home of its opponent, the New York Giants.
"There were some unexpected challenges, but in any case our record isn't good enough," Haslett, who coached the team for six seasons and was coach of the year in 2000, said in a statement.
The 54-year-old Martz took a medical leave this season after five games with an infection of the heart lining and was not allowed back on the sidelines, in part because of differences with director of football operations Jay Zygmunt. At the time he left the team, his career record was 56-36 and he had led the Rams to the playoffs four times, and to the Super Bowl after the 2001 season.
Thus it was no surprise when New Orleans' offensive players heard of the availability of Martz, known for his innovations, and hinted he be considered for the opening. "I'd like an offensive-minded coach," wide receiver Donte' Stallworth said, nodding when asked if it was a coach who had a recent health problem.
Martz may indeed be a candidate for an opening, especially on a team looking for offensive help.
  • DRAFT COIN FLIP: The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers will flip a coin to determine who gets the sixth pick in the NFL draft and who gets the seventh.
    The complete order for the April 29-30 draft was announced Monday, with Houston at No. 1, presumably with the rights to Reggie Bush, the Southern California running back who is expected to declare his eligibility after Wednesday's Rose Bowl. The Texans (2-14) officially fired coach Dom Capers on Monday as New Orleans (3-13), which will have the second pick, did with Jim Haslett.
    After the Saints come a group of 4-12 teams: Tennessee, the New York Jets and Green Bay, followed by Oakland and San Francisco.
    The NFL originally announced that the coin flip had been held. However, a later announcement said it will not be held until after the Super Bowl.
    After the seventh spot, the rest of the order among non-playoff teams is Buffalo, Detroit, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Minnesota, Dallas, San Diego, and Kansas City.
  • CHARGERS: The team's decision on Drew Brees' future became much cloudier when the quarterback said he needs surgery for a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
    Brees dislocated his right shoulder in a home loss to the Denver Broncos on Saturday, and an MRI on Sunday revealed the torn cartilage.
    The fifth-year pro plans to travel today to Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and would like to have surgery this week.
  • REDSKINS: Cornerback Shawn Springs is the biggest injury concern for the Washington Redskins as they head into their first playoff game since 1999.
    Springs aggravated his groin injury in the first half of Sunday's 31-20 victory over Philadelphia. He had an MRI on Monday, but team officials weren't expecting the results until today.
    "I wouldn't expect him to do much in the way of practice," trainer Bubba Tyer said.
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