NFL notebook: Browns hire Pettine as 7th head coach since 1999
By Staff and Wire Reports
Published: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 6:36 p.m.
After nearly a month of twists, turns and talk, the Browns found their man.
Mike Pettine is Cleveland's new coach.
Buffalo's defensive coordinator, who met with team officials for the first time just a week ago, finalized a contract Thursday to become the Browns' seventh full-time coach since 1999. The team fired Rob Chudzinski on Dec. 29 following one season and embarked on a winding search that ended with Pettine.
The 47-year-old Pettine, the son of a legendary Pennsylvania high school coach, spent one year with the Bills after four as Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator with the Jets.
With his clean-shaven head and no-nonsense approach, Pettine is popular with players. He'll inherit a Cleveland team that went 4-12 this season after losing its last seven games.
“To compete in the AFC North, you have to be willing to bloody your nose a little bit,” Pettine said. “That's the mentality we're going to take here. This is team is going to be built on toughness.”
The Browns have been to the playoffs (2002) just once since their franchise rebirth in 1999 and have never built any sustained success or momentum. Change has been the only constant.
Perhaps the team's biggest issue has been an inability to find a franchise quarterback; 20 QBs have started for the club in 15 seasons. Cleveland is expected to address its quarterback quandary in May's draft. The Browns have 10 selections, including two in the first round.
Football has formed Pettine's life. His father, Mike Pettine Sr., won four state championships at Central Bucks West in Doylestown, Pa., and retired in 1999 as the winningest coach in state history.
Steelers officially hire Munchak as O-line coach
Former Titans coach Mike Munchak and the Steelers finalized a contract to make the Hall of Famer the team's offensive line coach.
“I am excited Mike will be joining our staff at the Pittsburgh Steelers,” coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “Mike's offensive line background speaks for itself, both as a Hall of Fame player for the Houston Oilers and as a very successful line coach with the Tennessee Titans.”
Munchak is the third Steelers offensive line coach in three seasons, succeeding Sean Kugler, who left last year to coach UTEP, and Jack Bicknell Jr., who lasted only one year on the job before being fired — in part because of some of the young linemen's struggles last season.
Peterson undergoes groin surgery
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had groin surgery Thursday and is expected to spend the next six weeks recovering.
The Vikings said the operation went as planned, in Philadelphia by Dr. William Meyers.
Peterson rushed for 1,266 yards in 14 games, missing two in December due to a sprained right foot. The groin muscle had been bothering him for much of the season.
This was Peterson's third, though least invasive, surgery in the last 25 months. He had anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament reconstruction in his left knee in December 2011. Then, after rushing for 2,097 yards and winning the NFL MVP award, Peterson had a procedure done in February 2013 to repair a sports hernia in his abdomen. Meyers performed that surgery, too.
Man gets 57 years for Taylor's death
A Florida man who prosecutors say fired the fatal shot in the 2007 killing of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor has been sentenced to more than 57 years in prison.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy imposed the sentence on 23-year-old Eric Rivera Jr., who was convicted in November of second-degree murder and armed burglary. Rivera had faced a maximum life sentence.
Rivera told police in a videotaped confession that he and other young men from the Fort Myers area broke into Taylor's Miami-area house hoping to steal cash the NFL player kept there. Taylor surprised them because he was home instead of with the Redskins and was shot after confronting them with a machete.
Rivera testified someone else fired the gun. Three others are awaiting trial in the case.
Brown's mom: No grudge against ex-Cowboy Brent
The mother of a Cowboys practice squad player who was killed in a car crash last winter said she won't hold a grudge against the man who was drunk behind the wheel that night, her son's close friend and teammate Josh Brent.
Stacey Jackson wasn't asked and didn't say whether she thinks Brent should go to prison over the December 2012 crash that killed her son, Jerry Brown, who was a passenger in Brent's car. Brent was convicted Wednesday of intoxication manslaughter in Brown's December 2012 death and faced up to 20 years in prison or as little as probation.
Jackson has said she has forgiven Brent, though.
“He's still responsible but you can't go on in life holding a grudge,” Jackson, the mother of Jerry Brown, told the court. “We all make mistakes.”
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee of Upper St. Clair and Penn State attended part of the trial to show support for Brent, and team owner Jerry Jones said this week that he was closely watching for a verdict.
Jets' Smith receives apology from airline
Jets quarterback Geno Smith received an apology from Virgin America airline following a dispute with a flight attendant last week.
In joint statements released by the Jets, Virgin America said it reviewed what occurred last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport. The airline called it a “misunderstanding that regrettably escalated unnecessarily.” Virgin America says it apologized to Smith and welcomed him to fly with them again.
Smith says he appreciated the airline's review and added he looks forward to using the airline.
Neither statement released details, but a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press last Friday that Smith left the plane on his own after a flight attendant asked him to remove headphones and an argument ensued.
Around the league
The Cowboys signed kicker Dan Bailey to a new seven-year contract, which pays him roughly $3.3 million per season, through the 2020, according to multiple reports. … The Bears hired former Syracuse and Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni as their defensive line coach and Reggie Herring as linebackers coach.
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