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Schottenheimer Resigns; Rhodes to Coach Packers

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Just when you thought the whirlwind of coaching changes that has swept over the NFL since the regular season had ended, two major deals took place Monday.

Marty Schottenheimer, whose great success in the regular season has always led to playoff failure, resigned after 10 years as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and two weeks after being fired by one of the NFL’s worst teams, Ray Rhodes was hired to coach one of the best--the Green Bay Packers.

During an emotional news conference at Arrowhead Stadium, Schottenheimer would not say whether he might ever coach again. He was under contract with the Chiefs for the next three seasons and had reassured his staff last week that he would be back.

Schottenheimer said the frustration of the past year, his first losing season in 10 seasons in Kansas City and 4 1/2 in Cleveland, had nothing to do with his decision.

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“The outcome of this season really spoke to not stepping aside,” he said. “Clearly, it was a disappointment and a frustration to all of us. But this was a decision that has been made on the basis of really 25 years of coaching and 14 1/2 as a head coach.”

The 1998 Chiefs were expected to challenge for the Super Bowl but wound up 7-9 and set league records for penalties and penalty yardage.

Owner Lamar Hunt said he had tried to talk Schottenheimer into staying.

“I asked him twice to sleep on it,” Hunt said.

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Schottenheimer’s 101 regular-season wins with the Chiefs since 1989 are No. 1 in the AFC and second in the NFL only to the San Francisco 49ers.

Rhodes left the 3-13 Philadelphia Eagles to return to the place where he was defensive coordinator in 1992-93 under Mike Holmgren, who left Friday to become coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

“I don’t want to compare the Philadelphia Eagles football team with the Green Bay Packers,” Rhodes said. “That is not fair to anybody. We were never able to get the core players that this team has here right now.”

Rhodes is one of only three black head coaches in the NFL, all in the NFC Central Division. Minnesota’s Dennis Green and Tampa Bay’s Tony Dungy are the others.

The Packers, done in by injury and inconsistency, slipped to 11-6 this season, losing a wild-card playoff game at San Francisco and leaving Holmgren with an 84-42 mark, second only to Vince Lombardi in the team’s 80-year history.

Rhodes, who reportedly signed a four-year deal at about $1 million a season, said the offensive scheme won’t change and that the defense needs only minor tinkering, which he intends to provide.

“We want the team to be a little more aggressive in a lot of cases,” Rhodes said.

Linebacker Lamont Hollinquest said the players applauded General Manager Ron Wolf’s hiring of Rhodes.

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“All the guys like him. I guess he’s a players’ coach,” Hollinquest said.

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As expected, Andy Reid was named head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, succeeding Rhodes.

Relatively unknown and inexperienced, Reid faces the task of turning around a team that was 3-13 last season, has a limited talent base and needs a replacement for 27-year-old Veterans Stadium.

Reid, who has never been a head coach anywhere, says he can succeed where more experienced men like Rhodes, Rich Kotite and Marion Campbell failed to varying degrees.

“I think I’m able to give this organization the offense that has won a tremendous amount of rings in the National Football League,” Reid said. “I’d never put myself in a bad situation. I feel very confident that this organization can win.”

Reid signed a five-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Reid is believed to get $1 million a year.

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The 49ers’ off-again, on-again plans for a new stadium and adjoining mall could be off again because of soaring construction costs. And for the first time, team sources said they may settle for modernizing existing 3Com Park.

“There are a lot of options and that of course would be one,” John McVay, the 49ers’ interim general manager, said Monday.

Meanwhile, a league source told the Associated Press the 49ers have already approached the Oakland Raiders about possibly sharing the Oakland Coliseum for perhaps a season if they proceed with a major renovation of their facility on Candlestick Point.

“It’s still premature but there have been conversations in the past between the two ownerships about that, and other things as well,” the source said.

McVay denied a report by the San Francisco Chronicle that the team had abandoned plans to construct a new stadium because cost estimates have pushed the price above $525 million, at least $200 million over the original projection. But McVay conceded the 49ers were not wedded to the plan, either.

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Kick returner Tremain Mack missed the Cincinnati Bengals’ last four games because he was serving time for violating a DUI probation.

Back in court at Cincinnati, Mack drew enough new jail time to keep him out for the next two seasons.

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Mark Schweikert gave Mack 365 days and a $1,000 fine for driving under the influence; 180 days and $500 for driving under a DUI suspension; and 90 days for resisting arrest.

A Big Turnover

NFL teams that have changed coaches since the beginning of the 1998 season with team, former coach and new coach (including previous position):

* Baltimore--Ted Marchibroda; TBA

* Carolina--Dom Capers; George Seifert (former 49er coach)

* Chicago--Dave Wannstedt; TBA

* Cleveland--None (expansion); TBA

* Green Bay--Mike Holmgren; Ray Rhodes (former Eagle coach)

* Kansas City--Marty Schottenheimer; TBA

* Philadelphia--Ray Rhodes; Andy Reid (Packer quarterback coach)

* San Diego--Kevin Gilbride, June Jones (interim); Mike Riley (Oregon State coach)

* Seattle--Dennis Erickson; Mike Holmgren (former Packer coach)


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