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Mariucci Agrees to a Five-Year Deal With Lions

February 05, 2003|From Times Wire Services

Steve Mariucci was hired Tuesday as coach of the Detroit Lions, taking over one of the NFL's worst teams less than three weeks after he was fired by the San Francisco 49ers.

"We are thrilled. This is a huge step for our team and organization," Lion executive Matt Millen said.

Mariucci, raised in the Michigan town of Iron Mountain, reportedly will earn $25 million over five years. He had been the leading candidate since the Lions fired Marty Mornhinweg. Mariucci was the only coach to have an in-person interview.

Millen never publicly named any other candidate but said the Lions would do their best to comply with the NFL's policy of interviewing at least one minority candidate.

A source within the league, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said five minority candidates turned down interview requests because it appeared inevitable that Mariucci would be hired.

However, Pittsburgh Steeler owner Dan Rooney, who headed a committee to develop the policy, said the Lions did not follow procedure and said he would discuss the situation with the Lions and with the committee.

"The Lions' selection process fell short of what our committee recommends for all clubs as agreed in December," Rooney said.

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New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was dropped from the list of candidates to replace Mariucci at San Francisco.

General Manager Terry Donahue plans to consider a handful of college coaches for the job. Donahue apparently will wait to open the college portion of the 49ers' search until after today's recruiting deadline for national letters of intent. New York Jet defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and Chicago defensive coordinator Greg Blache will be interviewed in the next few days. San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora is another candidate.

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Denver kicker Jason Elam, 32, has signed a five-year, $9-million deal. His $2.6-million signing bonus is one of the largest ever for a kicker.... Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote dislocated his thumb during a fight near the Michigan campus, but the injury does not appear serious.... Darrell Bevell, 33, who was the quarterback of Wisconsin's 1994 Rose Bowl team, was promoted to quarterbacks coach by the Green Bay Packers.... The New York Giants, in an attempt to improve an area that contributed to a 39-38 loss to San Francisco in the first round of the playoffs, hired Mike Priefer, 36, as assistant special teams coach. He held the same post last season at Jacksonville.... Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning and kicker Mike Vanderjagt have resolved their feud. The players told the Indianapolis Star that they have apologized to each other after a series a publicized critical comments.

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