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Panthers Pick Giants' Fox as New Coach

January 26, 2002|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a 1-15 season and the firing of George Seifert, the Carolina Panthers on Friday hired John Fox as their new coach, hoping the New York Giant defensive coordinator can pump energy into the team.

Fox, never a head coach at any level, got a glowing review from Wellington Mara. The Giants' owner reminded Panther owner Jerry Richardson he had also recommended Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry for head coaching jobs during their careers.

"[Mara] was absolutely the most enthusiastic supporter for John," Richardson said. "In doing our research, the thing that kept coming back from everyone was John's energy level and enthusiasm."

Fox was actually Carolina's third choice for the job. They were spurned by Steve Spurrier, who went to the Washington Redskins, and Tony Dungy, who went to the Indianapolis Colts.

Dungy even interviewed with Carolina after Fox had his first meeting with team officials. But after Dungy took the Colt job, they went back to Fox.

When Fox finally received the offer, a four-year deal worth about $1 million annually, he felt relieved that his chase for a head coaching job had finally ended.

"I think maybe I let out a sigh," Fox said. "It's been a long process. I always had the philosophy that I was going to do the best darn job in the one I have and someone will notice and I'll finally get it."

He wasted no time explaining how things were going to be in Carolina, where the Panthers failed to win after Week 1 and ranked last in the league in offense and defense.

He said he learned from former Pittsburgh Steeler coach Chuck Noll that the only way a team can be successful is to "stop the run and be able to run the ball."

"We will work on running the ball," he said. "Is that all I'll do? No. But you have to be able to do that in this league."

He also went to work on assembling his staff, receiving permission from the Baltimore Ravens to interview linebacker coach Jack Del Rio for the defensive coordinator position.

Fox set no timetable for filling out his staff, but it's possible he could keep four coaches from George Seifert's staff. Linebacker coach Sam Mills, offensive line coach Paul Boudreau, special team coach Scott O'Brien and Richard Williamson, who will probably take a demotion from offensive coordinator to become wide receiver coach, are all candidates to remain with the team.

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