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Belichick Not Going to Baltimore

Pro football: Modell was turned down by Shula, but he fires his head coach anyway after 5-11 season.

February 15, 1996|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — The search for a new nickname can wait. First, Art Modell needs to find a new coach.

Modell, owner of the Baltimore NFL franchise formerly known as the Cleveland Browns, fired coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. He did not name a replacement, but former Baltimore Colt coach Ted Marchibroda is a possible choice for the job.

Modell may also consider hiring Oakland Raider assistant coach Joe Bugel or San Francisco 49er defensive coordinator Pete Carroll.

Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, has removed himself from the list of candidates.

The Browns went 5-11 last season, losing seven of their final eight games after Modell announced his intention to take the franchise to Baltimore. It was Cleveland's fourth losing season in five years under Belichick.

"The move to Baltimore offers us a new beginning, a fresh start," Modell said in a statement, "and we want to do everything we can to get to a higher level of play as soon as we can.

"We've had some success with Bill, including an 11-5 playoff team in 1994. However, I believe to get to the next level, a change at head coach is necessary."

Modell planned to attend a series of meetings in Baltimore on Wednesday and did not return calls to his offices in Cleveland and Baltimore.

Belichick, meanwhile, will probably land another job in the NFL. He could end up as the defensive coordinator for Miami Dolphin Coach Jimmy Johnson, although an NFL source said Belichick might be offered a job by New England Patriot Coach Bill Parcells.

In a statement, Belichick, 43, expressed his gratitude to the Browns.

"This team has an excellent future and I wish them well," Belichick said. "I will review my options with regard to my future in the NFL."

Marchibroda coached the Baltimore Colts from 1975 to 1979, winning three AFC titles. He was dismissed by Indianapolis after the 1995 season despite guiding the Colts to a 9-7 record and a berth in the AFC title game.

Coincidentally, Belichick began his coaching career in 1975 with the Baltimore Colts as a special assistant to Marchibroda.

Belichick was 37-45 with the Browns, his best season coming in 1994 when he led Cleveland into the AFC playoffs behind a defense that surrendered an NFL-low 204 points and an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks (14) in the league. The Browns, a wild-card entry, defeated New England before losing to Pittsburgh in the second round.

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