NFL Notebook: Broncos fire icon Shanahan
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He was known as a genius, a mastermind and, yes, a Super Bowl champion. Shockingly, though, Mike Shanahan has a new title: Unemployed coach.
Shanahan became the latest and most stunning victim of the NFL coaching purge, fired yesterday by the Denver Broncos after a late-season collapse knocked the team out of the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Shanahan became the fourth coach to be fired this week, joining Eric Mangini, Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel, after going 24-24 over the past three seasons, including three consecutive losses in 2008 that turned a three-game division lead to an 8-8 record.
"After giving this careful consideration, I have concluded that a change in our football operations is in the best interests of the Denver Broncos," owner Pat Bowlen said.
Bowlen had been steadfastly loyal to Shanahan, rewarding the coach who brought the long-awaited Super Bowl title to Denver.
But Denver remained stuck on only one postseason victory since John Elway retired in 1999 following back-to-back championships. Shanahan finishes at 146-91 over 14 seasons in Denver, including playoffs; his final game was an unseemly 52-21 loss to San Diego with the division title on the line.
"I'm very shocked, extremely shocked," said rookie Spencer Larsen, who played fullback and linebacker this year. "I don't think any of us saw this coming."
"I don't know if necessarily they'll find a better football coach," said linebacker Bill Romanowski, a key player on the Super Bowl teams. "Mike is an outstanding football coach, one of the better coaches I had, if not the best.
"But players start to get tired of the same routines, the same kind of play calling. A new fresh coat of paint sometimes does a whole lot of good."
Shanahan also served as the club's executive vice president of football operations and was in charge of all personnel decisions, so it's likely the Broncos will join the Chiefs in searching for new front-office leadership as well as a head coach.
Mike Martz was officially dismissed, sending the 49ers on a search for their seventh offensive coordinator in seven seasons. In response to growing speculation, coach Mike Singletary formally announced the move in a brief statement e-mailed to reporters.
Bills coach Dick Jauron will return next season after team owner Ralph Wilson decided a shake-up wasn't necessary despite a third consecutive 7-9 finish that left unhappy fans demanding change.
Brett Favre reportedly has a torn biceps tendon in his right arm that will not need major surgery to repair, ESPN said. ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Favre would need arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury but could also play without having an operation.
Also, the Jets will talk to Bill Cowher about their vacant coaching job, a person familiar with the search said. Cowher has also expressed interest in the job that opened Monday, the person said, when the Jets fired Eric Mangini.
Dissatisfied with the development of a defense featuring three first-round picks, Texans coach Gary Kubiak fired coordinator Richard Smith, secondary coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin.
Cleveland has scheduled an interview today with fired Jets coach Mangini, a person with knowledge of the meeting said.
Atlanta running back Michael Turner was involved in a "domestic dispute" Monday night with the mother of his infant child. Police made no arrests and will not file charges.
First Published December 31, 2008 12:00 am