Petitbon says no, Lombardi says bye Ex-Redskins coach turns down Marchibroda

personnel director quits

February 21, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Former Washington Redskins coach Richie Petitbon has turned down an offer to join the Baltimore franchise as defensive coordinator, and player personnel director Michael Lombardi resigned yesterday.

Baltimore head coach Ted Marchibroda said he spoke with Petitbon, 57, a longtime friend, recently about the position, but Petitbon said no thanks.

Petitbon was in the league for 34 years, but has been in retirement since he was fired after the Washington Redskins went 4-12 in 1993, Petitbon's only year as head coach.

Petitbon, a longtime defensive coordinator, was credited for building the gambling, attacking Redskins defenses during Washington coach Joe Gibbs' era in the 1980s.

"I asked Ritchie what he was doing with himself, and he said nothing, and that's what he wanted to continue to do," said Marchibroda, laughing. "He would have been one heck of a guy to have on the staff, especially since he lives in the area."

Marchibroda is pleased to have retained four members from previous coach Bill Belichick's staff because several of them complained about Baltimore owner Art Modell "stringing them along" for nearly a month while determining the status of Belichick.

Team officials will not reveal the names of the assistants until later today, but Mike Sheppard will be the offensive coordinator, according to a team source. Baltimore also expects to retain strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons, special teams coach Scott O'Brien, tight end/offensive line coach Pat Hill and defensive line coach Jacob Burney.

Former Browns defensive coordinator Rick Venturi, who fell out of favor with Modell last season, has accepted a job as linebackers coach with the New Orleans Saints, and secondary coach Jim Bates will join the Dallas Cowboys staff to work with linebackers.

The former Browns staff was regarded as one of the best in the league.

"I have been happy with the response of the coaches who are willing to stay," said Marchibroda, who expects to have a full staff within a week. "I didn't expect such positive results. We're making progress. I've got phone calls out, I'm just waiting for some returns."

There was speculation that Lombardi would be fired shortly after Belichick was dismissed, or after the annual college April draft.

A team source said Lombardi also was not comfortable with Ozzie Newsome, the director of pro personnel, getting more decision-making responsibilities from Modell once the move was voted on by league owners nearly two weeks ago.

A team source said Lombardi requested the meeting with Modell on Friday, and the two spoke by telephone yesterday morning.

Lombardi, 36, will be paid the two remaining years on his contract worth nearly $500,000. Lombardi declined comment yesterday, but a source close to him said he already has talked with the Oakland Raiders.

"We had a nice talk and he told me what he wanted to do, that he felt it was time to move on," said Modell of Lombardi, who had been with the team for 10 years. "We'll have our reorganization in the front office completed in a couple of weeks."

Modell said he had not made a decision on Lombardi's status.

"I had other things on my mind," said Modell, in an extremely jolly mood yesterday. "They still want a name for this team. Before we get a name, we've got to pass this legislation."

"I had to fight like hell to get out of Cleveland, now I've got to fight like hell to get to Baltimore, and I've got a signed deal with the governor. Right now, I'm a man without a country. Maybe we'll move this team to Alaska, call them the Nome Eskimos or something. If I didn't have a sense of humor about this, I'd either lose it or be dead."

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