Johnson talks coaching options with Belichick But Dolphins' new boss won't say if offer is made

Super Bowl Xxx

January 25, 1996|By Mike Preston and Vito Stellino | Mike Preston and Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said yesterday he has recently talked with Cleveland Browns coach Bill Belichick about other possible coaching options, but Johnson would not say if he offered Belichick the job as the Dolphins' defensive coordinator.

Johnson was named the Dolphins new coach on Jan. 11 and recently fired defensive coordinator Tom Olivadotti. Johnson said Belichick is a longtime friend.

"I cannot speak directly about that," said Johnson, when asked if he offered the job to Belichick. "I talk to Bill about a lot of things. I'd like to see him become a successful coach with the Cleveland Browns or Baltimore Browns, whatever the case may be."

Belichick has a 37-45 record in four years with the Browns, and the team slipped to 5-11 this year after some preseason publications picked the team to appear in the 1996 Super Bowl.

Belichick has two years left on his contract, which is worth almost $1.8 million. He was unavailable to comment. Browns offensive coordinator Steve Crosby turned in his forced resignation on Jan. 5, a day after Browns owner Art Modell met with his front office staff in Baltimore for the first time after the season.

Modell has repeatedly said Belichick will be his coach when the team moves to Baltimore.

"Bill and Jimmy are very good friends. I heard they talked for about an hour at the Senior Bowl," said Modell. "Bill has not said anything to me. I have no interpretations or any comment about that."

Modell said no front-office personnel decisions will be made until the league approves the Browns' move to Baltimore, but promises changes will be made.

"The team will be reshaped with a new look, a new style, whatever that entails," said Modell. "Right now, I have no specifics, and don't take this one way or the other about Bill, but some front office decisions have to be made. When we move to Baltimore, it will be a new look, a second chance, and I plan to exercise every opportunity to provide Baltimore with a productive and winning team."

Prime Time makes no time

There'll be no Prime Time on NBC-TV's Super Bowl pre-game show.

Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys turned down an interview request from the network for a session with former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka because Ditka ticked off Sanders' mother with comments critical of Sanders.

Sanders said: "Me myself, I can't sit up and talk bad about you all my life [and] then when a big opportunity arises for your network to make some ratings, I'm going to sit down and forget about that. I don't buy into that. If you don't like me, you don't like me. Don't like me because you need ratings."

On a conference call yesterday, Ditka repeated his criticisms of Sanders.

"I haven't said that much negative about him, but I just can't justify in my mind anybody playing eight games a year making that kind of money. I'm sitting here looking at a TV and I've just seen three commercials with him in it. . . . You can say I'm a dinosaur but something's out of whack when a guy can show up for eight games a year, make more money than anybody on your football team and get all the limelight and publicity."

Haley might play Sunday

Defensive end Charles Haley, who had back surgery seven weeks ago and has been battling the flu, practiced with the Cowboys' first-team defense yesterday and was upgraded to probable for the Super Bowl.

Rooney still against move

Dan Rooney, the president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, repeated his opposition to the Browns' move to Baltimore yesterday.

"I really hate to see Cleveland without a team," he said.

"I personally think teams have to stay where they are under most circumstances, unless there are circumstances that are considerably less than what's happening now."

(Injury report, 9D)

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