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SUPER BOWL XXXII: DENVER BRONCOS VS. GREEN BAY PACKERS;
3:15 P.M., SUNDAY; TV: CHANNEL 4. RADIO: KNX (1070)
| NFL NOTES

The Latest Commitment Is to Gruden

January 23, 1998|Associated Press

After promoting their last three coaches from within, the Oakland Raiders went outside the organization for the first time in a decade Thursday with the hiring of Jon Gruden.

Gruden, offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles the past three seasons, was hired to be the Raiders' third coach since 1995.

Gruden, 34, will replace Joe Bugel, who was fired Jan. 6 after leading the Raiders to a 4-12 record in his only season. Gruden will be the youngest head coach in the NFL.

"Jon Gruden is an extremely bright, perceptive, talented young coach with an outstanding background," Raider executive assistant Al LoCasale said. "He's gone through an extensive interview process here over the past few years."

Gruden had a follow-up interview Tuesday with the Raiders, his fourth meeting with Oakland officials in the past two years.

Gruden, who also met with Raiders officials on Jan. 8, had interviewed twice with the Raiders last year--when owner Al Davis decided to promote Bugel.

"I'm excited to be here. I understand the expectations and commitment of this franchise and look forward to getting started," Gruden said in a statement released by the Raiders.

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Green Bay receiver Don Beebe will sit out Sunday's Super Bowl, which would have been his fifth as a player. Beebe, 33, has been bothered by a strained hamstring since the final week of the regular season.

The Packers also practiced without leading receiver Antonio Freeman, who has flu. Packer Coach Mike Holmgren thought Freeman would have no problem playing Sunday.

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Brian Billick made good on his threat to quit the Minnesota Vikings unless he got a contract extension, resigning after nearly five seasons as the team's offensive coordinator.

There was no change in the status of Coach Dennis Green, but Viking President Roger Headrick indicated he had learned one or more teams might have contacted Green about a head coaching job.

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He pretended to be Denver Bronco safety Tyrone Braxton, but his football fantasy had a flaw.

San Diego police arrested a 29-year-old man for allegedly posing as Braxton, romancing an unsuspecting woman and buying rounds of drinks for strangers in a hotel bar.

Police said Rodney Johnson of Ohio, using a stolen credit card number, checked into a room at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, where the Broncos are staying during Super Bowl week.

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Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman was named the NFL man of the year for his contributions off the field as well as on.

Aikman's foundation provides financial support for high-tech, football-themed playrooms--"End Zones"--for disabled and other hospitalized youths.

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Referee Ed Hochuli heads the seven-man crew of game officials working Sunday's game. . . . The forecast for Sunday called for cloudy skies in the morning, but sunshine and temperatures near 70 degrees by kickoff at 3:18 p.m.

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