Cleveland. "Yeah, I've never been through a season this bad," says Art Modell, owner of the 3-11 Browns. "But this team is not the Titanic. Am I getting out? No way. Am I selling? No way." Here's what Modell is doing. After the season, interim coach Jim Shofner will get a friendly boot upstairs to become director of player personnel, a position that Modell will create for him. Shofner will be the third set of football eyes in the front office, joining the beleaguered brain trust of executive vice-president Ernie Accorsi and director of pro personnel Mike Lombardi. Accorsi won't have much say as to who will be the coach, because two years ago he pushed hard for Bud Carson, who was fired nine games into this season. This hire will be Modell's call. "It's not important whether he's an offensive or defensive guy," says Modell. "He's got to be a guy who's had command experience, preferably at the NFL level, and he's got to be a communicator and a teacher." Best guess: Illinois coach John Mackovic, who previously coached the Chiefs.
New England. As SI went to press, the Pats were waiting to see if University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich would accept owner Victor Kiam's offer to come aboard and begin reconstructive surgery on the organization, but what the Patriots really need is an infusion of on-field talent. Mendes will be at the Japan Bowl in January to scout Croel, as well as Tennessee tackle Antone Davis and Notre Dame cornerback Todd Lyght. The Pats also are searching for a quarterback, but no signal caller who's coming out is worth a No. 1 pick. New England might look for Southern Miss comer Brett Favre or Miami's Craig Erickson to be available in the second round.
Tampa Bay. The 6-8 Bucs want Bill Walsh. Sources say he's struggling to decide whether to return to the NFL as a coach and general manager. He's weighing big money opportunities—Walsh makes $650,000 in this, the last year of his contract as an NBC analyst but could earn much more than that in Tampa Bay—and whether he wants to stay in California. Bet on Walsh to remain with the network and in California.
Indianapolis. Bob Irsay, owner of the 6-8 Colts, likes his coach, Ron Meyer, so much that he had him over for Thanksgiving dinner. Last Friday, Irsay told Meyer in a private meeting that his job is secure.
Bears middle linebacker Mike Singletary is getting his first taste of life as an NFL assistant coach by helping defensive coordinator Vince Tobin break down film on Monday afternoons. Next year, which he vows will be his last as a player, Singletary is going to determine if the coaching life is right for him. In additon to assisting Tobin on Mondays, Singletary will spend Tuesdays, usually the club's off-day, helping prepare game plans.
"I love playing, and I feel I can do what I do for four more years," says Singletary. "But God has been gracious to me. I want to make sure I don't get greedy. I want to make sure I'm playing well when I leave."
Singletary has a sophisticated video system at home and he has extended an open invitation to his teammates to use his house for film study whenever they want. Still, he's not sure he wants to be known as Coach Singletary. "That kind of responsibility is kind of scary," he says. "It will come down to whether I think I can have an impact on kids' lives."
If Singletary chooses the coaching life, it is likely that he'll be a member of Mike Ditka's staff. The fire-breathing coach of the Bears is in the last year of his contract, but he and club president Mike McCaskey should soon be in agreement on the terms of a new pact of at least three years' duration. "I hope to coach a few more years, the Good Lord willing," Ditka says.
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