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ESPN: Marinelli is New Lions Coach


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Rod Marinelli was nearing an agreement with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday night to become their new head coach, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported.

The Lions and Marinelli were finalizing contact details Wednesday evening, with a formal announcement expected as early as Thursday.

Marinelli spent the past 10 seasons in Tampa Bay as defensive line coach. His unit helped establish an NFL record with 69 straight games with at least one sack from 1999 to 2003. He had the title of assistant head coach added in 2002.

He has not been a head coach at any level but attracted interest from at least one other team with an opening this offseason. The Oakland Raiders interviewed Marinelli on Monday and then he traveled to suburban Detroit for a second interview with Lions president Matt Millen.

Former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett said he was scheduled to travel from his home in Louisiana to Michigan on Wednesday night for a second interview. But on Wednesday evening, he told the AP he had not heard from the Lions about his travel arrangements or his prospects for the job.

Unlike Millen's first two coaching searches, he took his time and interviewed several candidates. Millen hired Marty Mornhinweg quickly in 2001, hoping Cleveland wouldn't hire him. Two years later, Millen hired Steve Mariucci with such haste that he was fined $200,000 by the NFL because he didn't follow the league's minority interview policy.

With Millen's players and coaches, the Lions are an NFL-worst 21-59 over the past five seasons -- since the former linebacker and TV analyst became an NFL executive for the first time.

Dick Jauron, who took over when Mariucci was fired in November, was one of many candidates Millen interviewed during a two-week process. Among the coaches Millen also interviewed were: Pittsburgh offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, Cleveland offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and San Francisco assistant head coach Mike Singletary.

Marinelli's coaching career began in 1973 as an assistant at Rosemead (Calif.) High School. He was an assistant at Utah State from 1973-82 before moving on to California for nine seasons, Arizona State for three seasons and Southern California for one season.

He went to Tampa Bay in 1996 and was the defensive line coach for six seasons. The past four seasons, he also had the title of assistant head coach.

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