Sam Rutigliano May Promote Football, Italian-Style

Associated Press

After coaching football in the United States for 32 years, Sam Rutigliano has decided it's time to seek new opportunities and experiences.

Among the jobs he might consider, Rutigliano said, are a television commentator in the United States or work in Italy promoting the five-year-old Italian American Football Assn.

He won't return to coaching, he said, either in Italy or America.

"I am only interested in long-term commitments, for taking decisions and planning ahead," he said. "If I am offered such an opportunity in Italy I am going to consider it. . . . I am open-minded, I am here to see if there is anything else I can do."

Rutigliano arrived here late last month for a two-week vacation and to attend football clinics in Italy and Switzerland.

He said he will return to the United States in mid-March to check into job openings for TV football commentators, but "will be back in Italy this summer for more talks."

According to reliable sources in the Italian football group, talks were underway to have Rutigliano undertake a "professional organization" of the league's championship. In the last few years, Italian football has grown in the number of teams and fans, as well as quality of play.

"American football can become increasingly popular in Italy although it lacks roots in this country," Rutigliano said. "It is a difficult but not impossible task. Better organization, more money and television can produce the result. Television can market everything."

Rutigliano, 51, spent seven years as coach of the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League before being fired midway through the 1984 season. He also served as a high school and college coach and as an assistant in the NFL, and he believes that football, American style, can follow basketball as a successful Italian import.

"However, you have 12 players in basketball and 50 in football. This makes a difference in costs. . . . Salaries of players (in the NFL) have tripled over the past six years," he said.

Rutigliano said Italian football teams, which have two championship games and their own version of the Super Bowl, are not yet prepared to import U.S. coaches and players.

"You must arrange clinics by American coaches to learn and improve the quality of play," he said. "Your doctors must travel to the States and learn about treating football injuries. . . . Football in schools can help a lot.

"Italian creativity can succeed in making football even more imaginative and interesting.

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