Sports Update

Jan. 28, 2002 at 7:54 PM
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In Sports from United Press International

Chargers to name Schottenheimer coach

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Former Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer appears to have found a new job as coach of the San Diego Chargers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday that Schottenheimer has reached an agreement in principle with the Chargers on a four-year deal that would pay him between $4.5 million and $5 million over the first three years.

The newspaper added that offensive coordinator Norv Turner will excercise his option to get out of the final three years of his four-year contract once Schottenheimer is signed.

The 58-year-old Schottenheimer would become the team's fifth head coach in seven years, replacing Mike Riley, who was fired on New Year's Eve after going 14-34 in three seasons. Schottenheimer apparently became the front-runner for the job two weeks ago when Bill Parcells spurned the Chargers shortly before turning down the vacancy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Washington Redskins fired Schottenheimer on January 13 with three years and $7.5 million in base salary left on his contract. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder would have to make up the difference in the new contract. Schottenheimer was dismissed following an 8-8 season and Snyder replaced him with former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

The Chargers have not had a winning season or appeared in the playoffs since 1995 and was a franchise worst 1-15 this past season. But ownership thinks Schottenheimer is the safest candidate to turn things around.

The Redskins lost their first five games under Schottenheimer this past season and many veterans referred to his practice sessions as a boot camp. But after defensive end Bruce Smith met with Schottenheimer to voice the players' displeasure, the coach modified his approach and Washington reeled off five consecutive wins to move into playoff contention. However, the Redskins lost three of their next four games before closing the season with two wins.

Schottenheimer had been out of football for two years before taking the Redskins job. He ranks 11th all-time with 153 NFL wins but never has been to a Super Bowl and is 5-11 in the postseason. He was 101-58-1 as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989-98 and 44-27 as coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1984-88.

The 49-year-old Turner was hoping to succeed Riley in San Diego, but instead will move elsewhere. There is speculation that Turner could become the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, unless Tampa Bay calls him about their vacancy.

Falcons dumping defensive cordinator

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that they will not retain Defensive Coordinator Don Blackmon.

Blackmon coached the Falcons linebackers from 1997-2000 before being promoted to Defensive Coordinator following the retirement of Rich Brooks last season.

Blackmon, 43, played seven seasons (1981-87) as a linebacker for the New England Patriots after being a fourth-round draft choice out of Tulsa. He started 72 of 89 games played for the Patriots and totaled 541 tackles, 30.5 sacks and five interceptions before his career was cut short due to a neck injury suffered in a game against the Raiders.

He was a member of New England's 1985 AFC Championship team that played the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX.

Blackmon's coaching career began in 1988 as he tutored the linebackers under Hall of Famer Raymond Berry in New England. After three seasons, he moved on to coach linebackers in 1991 for the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick. In 1993, he was hired by Dan Reeves as linebackers coach with the New York Giants.

El Aynaoui, Rusedski advance

MILAN, Italy, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco and Greg Rusedski of Britain, already in the hunt for a second ATP title in 2002, each collected victories Monday at the Milan Indoor tennis tournament.

El Aynaoui, the fifth seed, rallied to beat Kristian Pless of Austria, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) in the first round. Rusedski, seeded seventh, had a much easier time against Francisco Clavet of Spain, 7-5, 5-3, on the carpet in the northern Italian city.

El Aynaoui captured the Qatar Open title at Doha during the opening week of the year. He also was forced to rally in that final, overcoming Spain's Felix Mantilla in three sets.

Rusedski took the Heineken Open crown on January 12 at Auckland, New Zealand. The British Davis Cup player battled past France's Jerome Golmard to win his 11th ATP title.

Another Moroccan, eighth seed Hicham Arazi, made his way into the second round. He held off Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 7-6 (7-1), 2-6, 6-3.

In other action, Frenchman Nicolas Escude posted a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback win over Belgian Olivier Rochus; Russian Nikolay Davydenko dropped the opening set before getting past Brazilian Fernando Meligeni, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; and Bohdan Ulihrach of the Czech Republic outlasted Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Rangers sign Valdes, Seanez

ARLINGTON, Texas, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Texas Rangers added to their growing stable of pitchers Monday by signing righthanders Ismael Valdes and Rudy Seanez.

The pair mark the 10th and 11th new pitchers signed by John Hart since taking over as general manager in November. Hart is desperate to improve a team that ranked last in the major leagues last season with a 5.71 ERA.

The 28-year-old Valdes agreed to a major league contract at undisclosed terms. Plagued by hamstring and arm injuries, Valdes compiled a 9-13 record and a 4.45 ERA for the Anaheim Angels last season.

Seanez agreed to terms on a contract with Class AAA Oklahoma with an invitation spring training. He was a combined 0-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 38 relief appearances for the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves last season.

Once considered one of the Los Angeles Dodgers' top pitching prospects, Valdes won 10 or more games for four consecutive seasons from 1995-98. He pitched 225 innings and won 15 games in 1996. However, he has pitched more than 200 innings only once since then and has not won more than 11 games in a season.

Seanez, 33, bounced back last season after recovering from elbow surgery in June of 2000. He began his career with Cleveland in 1989. The righthander is 16-13 with a 4.32 ERA and 11 saves in 242 appearances with Cleveland, San Diego, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Devils fire coach despite successes

WEST ORANGE, N.J., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Devils Monday fired Coach Larry Robinson despite his winning the Stanley Cup in 2000 and coming within one win of doing it again last year.

He was replaced by former Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks Coach KevinConstantine.

Impatient General Mmanager Lou Lamoriello was not pleased with This season's 21-20-7-3 record. The Devils are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final postseason berth.

New Jersey is 1-2-1 on a five-game road trip that includes losses to Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Furtherr, the Devils were sluggish in a 2-2 tie at Minnesota on Saturday.

Robinson became the second coach with impressive recent success to lose his job. Ken Hitchcock was fired as coach of the Dallas Stars on Friday despite leading the franchise to five straight division titles and a Stanley Cup.

Super Bowl next for Rams, Patriots

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The New England Patriots hope the third time is the charm.

They returned Monday to New Orleans, site of their previous two Super Bowl disasters, to begin preparations forSunday's showdown with the St. Louis Rams. They are planning for a different outcome this time.

The "Big Easy" has been anything but for the Patriots (13-5),who were heavy underdogs in their previous two Super Bowl trips and lost by a combined 50 points. They again will be big underdogs at the Superdome against the explosive Rams, who posted a 24-17 win at New England on Nov. 18.

The early betting line has the Rams as a two-touchdown favorite.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick refuses to say who will be his starting quarterback next Sunday--Tom Brady or Drew Bledsoe.

The Rams (16-2) earned a trip to Super Bowl XXXVI at New Oreans with a 29-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, thanks largely to a pair of that city's native sons--Marshall Faulk who rushed for a career playoff-high 159 yards and apair of second-half touchdowns and Aeneas Williams, who had a key interception at the St. Louis 35 Sunday to snuff out the Eagles' final scoring threat.

Bush honors Lakers

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- President Bush congratulated the Los Angeles Lakers Monday for winning back-to-back NBA titles Monday.

In a White House ceremony, Bush welcomed members of the Lakers along with Coach Phil Jackson before an audience that included NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"I want to thank the players who understand that with victory comes huge responsibility to encourage people to make the right choices in life," Bush said. "That's the sign of a true champ."

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers gave the obligatory No. 1 jersey to Bush, who often joked with the players.

Mariners reportedly in accord with Baldwin

BRISTOL, Conn., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Seattle Mariners apparently have rounded out their rotation by signing free agent right hander James Baldwin.

ESPN reported Monday that Baldwin, who started last season with the Chicago White Sox before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, has agreed to a one-year contract with an option for asecond year.

The cable network said the deal hinges on Baldwin passing a physical.

Columbus puts Vyborny on injured reserve

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The struggling Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday placed right wing David Vyborny on injured reserve, retroactive to Friday.

Vyborny, 27, was expected to miss 3-4 weeks for the Blue Jackets, who are tied with the Atlanta Thrashers for the fewest points in the NHL. The Czech player sprained his MCL against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Iverson, Nowitzki NBA Players of Week

NEW YORK, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki were named Monday as NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week.

Iverson was honored for a second straight week and third time this season. He led the 76ers to a 3-1 record over the past seven days, averaging 37.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals. He registered a FleetCenter-record 47 points in a 106-90 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday.

Nowitzki, who scored 39 points in Dallas' 113-105 victory over New Jersey on January 21, led the Mavericks to a 4-0 record last week, averaging 29.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.25 blocks.

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