Calling it "the thing to do," Chuck Knox, the once and perhaps future coach of the Rams, joined the lengthening parade of unemployed NFL coaches Friday when his resignation was accepted by the Seattle Seahawks.
Knox, 59, immediately became one of the Rams' two top candidates--along with former Philadelphia Eagle coach Buddy Ryan--to replace John Robinson, who resigned after nine seasons with the team.
Ram Executive Vice President John Shaw said speculation that the Rams have already met with Knox was "totally untrue" but expressed interest in Knox, who won NFC West titles in all five seasons (1973-77) he coached the Rams before problems with then-owner Carroll Rosenbloom led to his moving to the Buffalo Bills in 1978.
"I'd say he's someone we'd possibly have an interest in," Shaw said of Knox.
Shaw would not say whether the team has spoken with Knox about its opening, but Seattle is believed to have given Knox permission to talk with other clubs even before his resignation--so any discussions with the Rams would not have been tampering.
According to sources close to the situation, Knox has indirectly told the Rams he would be amenable to taking over the club with the caveat that he keep defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher and that over a two- or three-year span he would groom Fisher, 33, to eventually step in as coach.
Knox, who has a condominium in Palm Springs and whose daughter lives in Redlands, has told associates that he would like to return to the Rams, where Rosenbloom's widow and Knox's longtime friend, Georgia Frontiere, runs the team.
Knox told a Seattle radio station Thursday that his future was uncertain, but that he was "going to take a look at other coaching options to see what the options are and proceed from there."
In 1983, after five seasons and two playoff berths in Buffalo, Knox took over a Seattle team that had never played a postseason game and led the Seahawks to four playoff berths in his first six years.
But since winning the AFC West title for the first time in 1988, the Seahawks have missed the playoffs three consecutive times, and were 7-9 this season.
Knox, who began this season as the active coach who has gone the most years without reaching the Super Bowl, has a regular-season record of 171-114-1, and his teams have made the playoffs 11 times in 19 seasons--with a postseason record of 7-11.
He was 80-63 in Seattle.
Knox, as did Robinson with the Rams, signed a three-year contract extension with the Seahawks after last season. But, also as did Robinson, he had a clause in the deal that enabled Seattle to terminate the contract with a settlement, believed to be near $300,000.
Knox, who earned $950,000 last season, is believed to have collected all of his settlement in Friday's mutual agreement. All three principal parties in the decision--Knox, General Manager Tom Flores and Owner Ken Behring--were in Palm Springs for separate holiday vacations and were available to reporters only by phone or written statement.
Dennis Erickson, current University of Miami and former Washington State coach, and Flores himself are considered the leading choices to replace Knox.
"We have agreed a change is going to be made," Knox said in a prepared statement. "I appreciate the support and respect of the Seahawks' organization, the fans, my assistant coaches, and the players and the effort they've put forth.
"I will make a decision shortly on what I want to do in the future."
Before last Sunday's victory over the Rams, as the inevitability of his departure from Seattle grew, Knox told reporters that he had "a lot of warm memories" about his time with the Rams and has said he thinks he has the energy to coach five more seasons.
"The fire's still there," Knox said. "There's still a burning desire in my gut to want to win one, (and to) coach."
Ram interviews are expected to begin next week and probably will include several beyond Knox and Ryan. Others are: San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren, recently fired Green Bay Packer coach Lindy Infante and New England offensive coordinator Dick Coury, a longshot.
Chuck Knox's Coaching Record
NFL record of Chuck Knox, who resigned as coach of the Seattle Seahawks Friday.
YEAR TEAM W L T PCT. 1973 *Rams 12 2 0 .857 1974 *Rams 10 4 0 .714 1975 *Rams 12 2 0 .857 1976 *Rams 10 3 1 .750 1977 *Rams 10 4 0 .714 1978 Buffalo 5 11 0 .313 1979 Buffalo 7 9 0 .438 1980 *Buffalo 11 5 0 .688 1981 Buffalo 10 6 0 .625 1982 Buffalo 4 5 0 .444 1983 Seattle 9 7 0 .563 1984 Seattle 12 4 0 .750 1985 Seattle 8 8 0 .500 1986 Seattle 10 6 0 .625 1987 Seattle 9 6 0 .600 1988 *Seattle 9 7 0 .563 1989 Seattle 7 9 0 .438 1990 Seattle 9 7 0 .563 1991 Seattle 7 9 0 .438 Total 19 years 171 114 1 .600
YEAR TEAM W L PCT. 1973 Rams 0 1 .000 1974 Rams 1 1 .500 1975 Rams 1 1 .500 1976 Rams 1 1 .500 1977 Rams 0 1 .000 1980 Buffalo 0 1 .000 1981 Buffalo 1 1 .500 1983 Seattle 2 1 .667 1984 Seattle 1 1 .500 1987 Seattle 0 1 .000 1988 Seattle 0 1 .000 Total 11 years 7 11 .389
* DAVID SHULA HIRED: The Bengals select Don Shula's son as coach. C4
* WILLIAMSON FIRED: Parcells denies Buccaneers have offered him job. C5