John Robinson, who had been rumored to be on his way out as coach of the Los Angeles Rams during their worst season since 1982, will return to the team next year, it was announced yesterday.
Rams owner Georgia Frontiere said that Robinson, in his eighth year as coach, will "continue as head coach of the Rams next year and into the future."
Robinson, the winningest coach in the team's history since succeeding the late Ray Malavasi after the Rams went 2-7 during the strike-interrupted 1982 season, is in the fourth year of a five-year contract. Frontiere said an extension of the contract will be negotiated during the off-season.
Robinson's teams have a 76-60 record, but Los Angeles is just 5-10 this year entering its regular-season finale Monday night at New Orleans. The Rams failed to qualify for the playoffs for only the second time in Robinson's tenure.
Last year, the Rams went 11-5 and won playoff games on the road over the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 30-3, in the National Football Conference championship game. The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl.
"I have nothing but the deepest respect for John's abilities, and I'm certain that he is just as committed as I am to bringing our fans a championship team next year," Frontiere said in a news release.
In addition to announcing that Robinson will return, Frontiere said that provisions will be made for him to have greater input in the National Football League draft and in the selection and signing of Plan B free agents.
* BROWNS: Police confirmed that an investigation is ongoing concerning a woman's allegation that she was raped Dec. 20 in (( Parma Heights, Ohio. She has sought to implicate a member of the Cleveland team.
No charge has been filed, and the name of the player involved has not been made public.
"It's an ongoing investigation," Parma Heights police Sgt. Ray Hill said. "That's all I can tell you. There are no names."
Hill said he was awaiting results of laboratory tests and said completion of the investigation "should be soon." He declined to comment further.
On Thursday, Parma Heights police chief Kenneth Schlacht said: "Yes, professional athletes are involved. We're still trying to sift through the mess." The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the investigation concerns two players.
But Schlacht said yesterday, "There is a single perpetrator we are looking at."
* COWBOYS: Quarterback Troy Aikman was placed on injured reserve because of the shoulder injury he suffered in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia.
The move by Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson will keep Aikman out at least four weeks, until the Super Bowl.
Aikman has said he will seek a second opinion on surgery to repair his separated right shoulder. He said he has increased mobility and decreased pain in the joint.
The Cowboys are starting Babe Laufenberg against the Atlanta Falcons tomorrow,, when Dallas tries to secure an NFC wild-card playoff berth.
Team physician Robert Vandermeer plans to consult with orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe, who is expected to remove bone chips from Aikman's right elbow.
Aikman said that if he decides on shoulder surgery, Jobe would perform both procedures during the same operation.
* OILERS: Houston will have four new players in the lineup for tomorrow's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, including Pro Bowl guard Bruce Matthews, who will start at center in place of benched Jay Pennison.
Cody Carlson will replace Pro Bowl quarterback Warren Moon, who suffered a dislocated thumb in Sunday's 40-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Starting strong-side linebacker John Grimsley will move to the middle to replace injured Al Smith, and No. 1 draft pick Lamar Lathon will take over for Grimsley.
If strong safety Bubba McDowell can't play for the second straight week because of a knee injury, he'd be replaced by Leander Knight.