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PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE NFL : Panthers Fined for Courting Capers

The NFL fined the Carolina Panthers $150,000 and stripped them of two draft choices for talking to defensive coordinator Dom Capers of the Pittsburgh Steelers about their head coaching job.

The Steelers were fined $50,000 and a moratorium was placed on signing Capers.

“The Panthers and other clubs will be able to discuss employment with Capers after the Steelers play their final postseason game,” the league said in a statement Tuesday. “But no club will be permitted to sign Capers to a contract for a period of five days following the Steelers’ final game.”

If the Steelers play in the Super Bowl, the moratorium will end on Feb. 1, three days after the game.

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The draft choices will be the 61st and 191st overall in April’s college draft--the extra pick the Panthers get after the second and sixth rounds.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said league rules were violated three times--when the Panthers contacted Capers; when the Steelers granted permission to talk to him; and when the Panthers and Capers engaged in discussions.

There was no confirmation Capers and the Panthers had come to an agreement, although there were numerous published reports that an agreement had been made.

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Rusty Tillman, fired as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, wants to be rehired as the team’s head coach. And he actually thinks he has a chance, although he acknowledges the top candidates are Miami Coach Dennis Erickson and San Francisco 49er offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.

“Obviously, if you listen to the news and read the papers, Shanahan and Erickson are the top two guys,” Tillman said. “That’s not always true. A lot of times the third guy gets it.”

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Coach Barry Switzer of the Dallas Cowboys got a big vote of confidence from Cowboy owner Jerry Jones heading into the NFL playoffs: continuance of his five-year rollover contract.

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