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January 23, 2001|From Staff and Wire Reports

Running back Barry Sanders said he's finished playing football, but he won't rule out joining the Detroit Lions in another role.

"I am too old to play. I'm going to be 33 this summer," Sanders said Sunday night before boarding a flight at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. "I am not going to play again, but I'm definitely going to talk to them about joining the organization. It would be nice."

He said Lion President Matt Millen called him and asked if he wanted to play or work for the team in another role.

Sanders retired on the eve of training camp before the 1999 season. In 10 seasons, he rushed for 15,269 yards.

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Al Saunders is back in Kansas City as new Chief Coach Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, promising to "attack, attack, attack."

Saunders was Marty Schottenheimer's receivers coach and assistant head coach with the Chiefs from 1989-98. He served with Vermeil on the staff of the St. Louis Ram team that won last year's Super Bowl.

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An arbitrator upheld a contract clause allowing the Cincinnati Bengals to take away all or part of a player's signing bonus if he publicly criticizes team officials, coaches or teammates.

Arbitrator Richard Bloch, in a decision released by NFL officials, said the contract provision is a permissible way for the club to discourage what it considers unacceptable conduct.

Bloch's ruling, dated Jan. 17, rejected a grievance the NFL Players Assn. filed in July challenging the "loyalty clause."

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Gregg Williams, whose Tennessee Titan defense was the NFL's top-ranked unit this season, interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' head coaching vacancy.

Williams, the Titans' defensive coordinator the last four seasons, met for three hours with Brown President Carmen Policy and other Cleveland executives.

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John Shoop was hired as offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, who won two of three games with him calling plays at the end of this season. He replaces Gary Crowton, who became coach of Brigham Young, his alma mater.

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