Colts name not returning coach might

J. Irsay holds firm

Shula 'not interested,' so enter Marchibroda

'No plans to ever' free name

Belichick's dismissal imminent, report says

February 09, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- If Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell wants to recapture some of Baltimore's old football magic, it apparently is going to be without the Colts name.

In a brief statement yesterday, Indianapolis Colts general manager Jimmy Irsay said he had no intention of relinquishing the Colts name. Browns officials have had internal discussions about acquiring the name, said Browns vice president Kevin Byrne.

Irsay's father, Robert, is still the owner of the Colts, whom he moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984. Robert Irsay is hospitalized with a stroke in Indianapolis.

"We have no plans of ever letting the name go," said Jimmy Irsay.

Modell also may have trouble luring coaching legend Don Shula, 66, out of a one-month retirement. Byrne confirmed Modell and Shula met Tuesday at Modell's home in Palm Beach, Fla., and had a preliminary discussion about Shula possibly taking a front-office job or the head coaching position with the Browns.

Shula did not return phone calls from The Sun yesterday to his hotel room in Indianapolis, but told the Associated Press that he was "not interested at this time" in joining Modell in Baltimore.

Colts coach Ted Marchibroda appears to head the list of coaching candidates if Shula turns down Modell.

Asked if he would become the team's general manager, Shula, in Indianapolis for a college scouting combine, refused to speculate.

The offer to Shula was the biggest indication yet that Modell plans to replace head coach Bill Belichick if the league finally approves his move to Baltimore. Belichick, who recently completed his fifth year with an overall record of 37-45, has two years left on a contract worth nearly $1.3 million.

Last night Channel 8 in Cleveland reported that Belichick will be fired either today or tomorrow.

"It's a new rumor every day," Belichick said from his home in Cleveland. "Yesterday it was Shula, tomorrow it will be someone else. There are no announcements coming from me; it's going to come from Art. Go ask him."

Modell is refusing to speak to reporters until the league vote.

Byrne said Modell's decision to speak with Shula did not mean Belichick would be fired. He also said Modell and Belichick had not spoken as of late last night.

"Art has said that when this move is approved, he will sit down and talk with Bill, and I think he will honor that," said Byrne. "When you talk about Shula, you're talking about a guy Art has admired for a long time."

Shula, coach of the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1969, resigned from the Miami Dolphins last month and was replaced by Jimmy Johnson. Shula is the league's winningest coach with 347 victories in 33 seasons.

If Modell can't sign Shula, then the Browns have only a short list of candidates, one that could include Marchibroda, Colts offensive coordinator Lindy Infante and Oakland assistant Joe Bugel.

Marchibroda, 64, was the coach in Baltimore from 1975 through 1979. He has compiled a 73-71 record in his two stints with the Colts. He led Indianapolis to the AFC title game this season, but on Wednesday failed to get a two-year contract from the Colts.

The team was only willing to sign Marchibroda to a one-year deal at his current salary of $600,000, and gave him permission to speak with other teams.

Marchibroda was evasive when talking about coming back to Baltimore, because he is still under contract with the Colts.

"I'm not going to rule out anything," said Marchibroda, who still owns a home in Northern Virginia. "Why should I? I feel very good with my coaching career."

If Marchibroda and the Colts fail to reach an agreement, the younger Infante, 55, is expected to be his replacement.

"Right now, I'm a spectator," said Infante, who was head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1988 to 1991.

Bill Tobin, the Colts' director of football operations, said the Browns had not asked for permission to speak with Infante.

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