NFL: Week 17

Marinelli loses again - his job

Lions let him go after 0-16 season

Associated Press / December 30, 2008
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Rod Marinelli will be remembered as the first and perhaps only coach of an 0-16 team in NFL history.

If someone recognizes Marinelli for that distinction in the future, he won't put up a fight.

"I'd accept it and move on," Marinelli said yesterday after being fired by the Lions. "I wouldn't give an excuse and I wouldn't give an explanation."

Even on Marinelli's way out, he wouldn't blame former Lions president Matt Millen for the talent-deprived roster he had for three seasons.

"I've said it all year long, 'It starts with me,' " he said.

The Lions started their offseason yesterday morning, a day after they became the NFL's first 0-16 team, by firing Marinelli and promoting the leaders of the front office.

"You can't go 0-16 and expect to keep your job," Marinelli said.

The leaders of Detroit's front office, though, did just that.

Owner William Clay Ford elevated Tom Lewand to team president and Martin Mayhew to general manager.

Ford also dismissed defensive coordinator Joe Barry, Marinelli's son-in-law, assistant offensive line coach Mike Barry, his son-in-law's dad, and secondary coach Jimmy Lake.

Defensive line coach Joe Cullen's contract was not renewed and offensive coordinator Jim Colletto was demoted to offensive line coach.

The Lions now will search for their sixth head coach since 2000. They have received permission to interview Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray, who was a teammate of Mayhew in 1993 with the Buccaneers.

Other possible candidates include Brian Billick, who helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl in 2000, and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Phillips to change
The Cowboys aren't changing coaches. Instead, coach Wade Phillips plans to change. After seeing Super Bowl hopes fizzle into a 9-7 season that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs, team owner Jerry Jones has vowed to bring back Phillips, and Phillips vowed yesterday to do things differently. "We know things must improve. The only way is to change things," Phillips said. "To get to the standard we want, I don't see another way." Phillips said he and Jones already "talked man to man" about what went wrong and what needs to be done about it. All he's decided so far is that he needs a plan; he's only started putting it together. However, he said both coordinators will be back and he expects all the star players to return . . . Cowboys linebacker Bradie James had an incident with a fan standing outside the driveway into team headquarters wearing a sandwich board that read "Our team has no heart" on the front, and "Wade is an embarrassment to the star." James tore the sign off the man, breaking his sunglasses. However, then he went to his locker, got a pair of expensive shades he'd been given, and returned with an apology, a handshake, and a gift. Police came and left without taking any action . . . According to, the Raiders are in the process of requesting permission to speak with Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride about their vacant head coach position.

An out for Parcells?
The possibility Bill Parcells might leave the Dolphins after only one season surfaced just as the team he rebuilt earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2001. Parcells's contract allows him to leave after one season and still receive the $12 million remaining on his four-year deal if the team is sold, owner Wayne Huizenga confirmed. The sale of a majority share to New York real estate billionaire Stephen Ross is expected to be completed shortly after the season. Parcells then would have 30 days to leave without sacrificing the money due him in the final three years of his contract. Surprising Miami plays host to Baltimore in a first-round playoff game Sunday. The Dolphins are 11-5, a dramatic turnaround from last year's 1-15 record . . . The Pro Bowl will be played one week before the Super Bowl in 2010 and both games will be staged in Dolphin Stadium, a person directly involved in the decision told the AP. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the move. It's not a new notion to have the game moved up to take place between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. The NFL has discussed it multiple times in recent years, and commissioner Roger Goodell told the AP last month that having the game precede the Super Bowl would avoid a "somewhat anticlimactic" ending to the season. The Pro Bowl has been held in Honolulu since 1980, and it's probable that the game will return to Hawaii after 2010, although not on a permanent basis.

Williams hopeful
Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams is planning to do everything in his power to be ready for Sunday's playoff game against Philadelphia. Coach Brad Childress said Williams, recovering from a broken right shoulder, will "try to make that push to this weekend," but he was noncommittal about whether the three-time Pro Bowl pick would be able to play . . . LaDainian Tomlinson said a strained groin will have him at less than full strength when the Chargers play Peyton Manning and the streaking Colts in the wild-card round Saturday . . . Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not stay in a hospital overnight after sustaining a concussion Sunday against Cleveland, but it was uncertain whether he will practice this week . . . Tampa Bay running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams got some encouraging news - the second knee injury he's suffered in the past 15 months is not as severe as the first. Williams tore the patellar tendon in his left knee when he was tackled at the end of a 28-yard run during Sunday's loss to the Raiders. He suffered a career-threatening injury to his right knee in September 2007 and was sidelined until six weeks ago. But the fourth-year pro said that unlike last season, when the patellar tendon in his right knee was ruptured, the tendon pulled away from the bone this time and should be simpler to repair.

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