3 Get Pink Slips
Lofty expectations did in Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel, as their teams' seasons crumbled from high hopes to demoralizing finishes. Little was expected of the Detroit Lions, though nor was the worst season in NFL history. That cost Rod Marinelli his job, too. "You can't go 0-16 and expect to keep your job," Marinelli said. Now two interim coaches who breathed some life into downtrodden clubs - the Rams' Jim Haslett and the Raiders' Tom Cable - await word on their fates.Three NFL clubs fired coaches Monday, less than 24 hours after the regular season ended. Out were Marinelli, the New York Jets' Mangini and the Cleveland Browns' Crennel. Only Mangini's firing came as a bit of a surprise. The Jets harbored Super Bowl aspirations after an 8-3 start that followed an offseason spending spree, including the trade for Brett Favre. But they didn't even make the playoffs, losing four of their last five games. "I don't think it was one thing," owner Woody Johnson said. "We had to go in a different direction. There's nothing specific. It's just a call we made. Hopefully, it's correct." The Browns' search to replace Crennel is already off to a disheartening start: Bill Cowher told owner Randy Lerner on Saturday that he doesn't intend to coach in 2009. Cleveland collapsed to 4-12 amid injuries and didn't score an offensive touchdown while losing their last six games. "Romeo was a gentleman through and through," Lerner said. "He was gracious to a fault." The Lions became the first NFL club to go 0-16 with their loss to the Packers on Sunday. Marinelli won only one of his last 24 games. Mike Singletary will be retained after the 49ers went 5-4 in their final nine games. DOLPHINS: The possibility Bill Parcells might leave Miami after only one season surfaced just as the team he rebuilt earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2001. Parcells' contract allows him to leave after one season and still receive the $12 million remaining on his four-year deal if the team is sold, owner Wayne Huizenga confirmed. The sale of a majority share to New York real estate billionaire Stephen Ross is expected to be completed shortly after the season. Parcells would then have 30 days to leave without sacrificing the money due him in the final three years of his contract. STEELERS: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not stay in a hospital overnight after receiving a concussion Sunday against Cleveland, but it was uncertain if he will practice this week. With a week off before they begin practicing for their Jan. 11 divisional playoff game, the Steelers will work out today, Wednesday and Thursday. PRO BOWL: The Pro Bowl will be played one week before the Super Bowl in 2010 and both games will be staged in Dolphin Stadium, a person directly involved in the decision told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the move.
Alejandro Villanueva, Steelers player and Army vet who stood alone, now has the NFL's top-selling jersey