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Report: Wannstedt to Bills

Veteran NFL coach Dave Wannstedt has agreed to join the Buffalo Bills' staff as assistant head coach, according to FoxSports.com. Wannstedt interviewed with the Bills last week and has a long relationship with Bills head coach Chan Gailey. Wannstedt interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their defensive coordinator position on Thursday. A Bills spokesman said Friday morning the team has nothing to announce at this time.

Wannstedt recently was forced to resign as University of Pittsburgh head coach after six season in that position. Wannstedt is a Pittsburgh native. Gailey was Wannstedt's first offensive coordinator when Wannstedt became head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2000. Gailey ran the Miami offense under Wannstedt for two seasons, then jumped to the college ranks as head coach at Georgia Tech.

---Mark Gaughan

Senior Bowler to Bills?

Bills coach Chan Gailey and his staff will be coaching the South squad at the Senior Bowl next week. What are the odds that the Bills will draft one of the players Gailey and his coaches will get up close and personal with next week? Pretty good.

Over the past five years, seven of the 10 NFL teams that have coached the game have picked a player on the squad their men coached. Eight of the 10 teams picked a player on one of the two squads in the game. Last year's South team was coached by Miami's staff. The Dolphins took a South-squad player in the first round (DT Jared Odrick), second round (LB Koa Misi) and fourth round (LB A.J. Edds). The only teams that coached in the game but didn't draft a player in the game were Detroit last year and Oakland in 2008.

---Mark Gaughan

 

Vote for 5 for the Hall of Fame

Jerry Sullivan writes a column today about Andre Reed's candidacy as a finalist for induction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/columns/jerry-sullivan/article317451.ece

Reed is one of 15 modern-era candidates for the Hall. A maximum of five of those men can get elected. The vote takes place on Feb. 5. Here's your chance to weigh in. Vote for five - and only five - of the 15 below. ---Mark Gaughan

 

Share your Super Bowl XXV memories

 
As Western New York prepares to mark 20 years since “Wide Right,” The Buffalo News wants to hear your memories of Super Bowl XXV.

Whether you went to the game, the pep rally the next day or just watched it from your couch at home, send us your stories to super@buffnews.com. We’ll post readers’ stories on buffalonews.com and may even use some in our special coverage of the game’s anniversary.

Be sure to include your full name, hometown and phone number in case we want to talk with you about your memories.

SPORTS MCCOY REED

The Bills' Andre Reed fights for more yards in Super Bowl XXV. (James P. McCoy / Buffalo News)

Former Bills coaches reunite

Tyke Tolbert and Eric Studesville haven't coached together since they were part of Dick Jauron's staff in Buffalo. Tolbert spent the past season coaching receivers in Carolina, while Studesville tutored running backs in Denver before becoming interim head coach when the Broncos fired Josh McDaniel.

But Tolbert and Studesville will be together again in Denver as both were hired by new Broncos head coach John Fox.

Studesville interviewed for the Broncos' head coaching job, but was a long shot hire. Obviously Fox valued Studesville's experience and Studesville put his ego aside to stick around even though he was passed over for the top coaching spot by the team.

---Allen Wilson    

 

Wannstedt meeting with Bills

SPORTS MULVILLE DOLPHINS BILLS Former NFL and college head coach Dave Wannstedt is meeting with Bills head coach Chan Gailey at One Bills Drive today to discuss the possibility of joining the Buffalo coaching staff.

Wannstedt recently was forced to resign under pressure as head coach at the University of Pittsburgh after six seasons in that job. Wannstedt has a close professional relationship with Gailey. If Wannstedt were to join the Bills, it likely would be in some type of oversight role, probably with an assistant head coach title. Gailey served for two years as offensive coordinator under Wannstedt with the Miami Dolphins in 2000 and 2001. Wannstedt was Dolphins head coach from 2000 to the middle of the 2004 season and compiled a 44-33 record. The Bills are down one assistant coach from last season, having released inside linebackers coach DeMonte Cross last week.

Wannstedt also has been rumored to be a candidate for several other NFL assistant coaching openings this offseason, notably in San Diego, Carolina and Cleveland.  He currently still is employed by Pitt, as special assistant to the athletic director.

---Mark Gaughan

NFLPA leaders sound pessimistic

The NFL Players Association held a conference call today to assert their position that the union in no way wants a work stoppage this year. However, the tone of the briefing was pretty pessimistic. In short, all signs continue to point to a lockout of the players once the collective bargaining agreement with the league runs out in March.

There are no meetings - zero - scheduled as of today between the union and the league on a new deal.

The union says the league remains committed to seeking about $1 billion in annual givebacks from the players. The union wants to see the league's books to prove the worthiness of that request. 

"We’ve had over 30 meetings," said NFLPA chief counsel Richard Berthelsen. "At every meeting we’ve asked them for their financials. At every meeting they’ve said we are not claiming we have losses. ... So there’s no reason to open our books. ... We don’t believe that information is forthcoming because it’s not going to show any need for major change."

Not good news for fans.

---Mark Gaughan

Fewell & Denver search

It's looking like New York Giants defensive chief Perry Fewell, the former Bills coordinator and interim head coach, is likely to remain entrenched in New York. Fewell has interviewed for three head coaching jobs - in Carolina, Denver and Cleveland. However, Carolina hired San Diego defensive chief Ron Rivera. That probably was Fewell's best shot this offseason at a head job. Denver and Cleveland remain on the hunt for a head coach. But Cleveland's search is being led by team president Mike Holmgren. Given Holmgren's offensive background, he's expected to hire an offensive coach. Denver's search is being led by John Elway. He may lean toward an offensive coach, too. Denver is scheduled to interview fired Carolina coach John Fox, a defensive coach. Elway has interviewed the offensive coordinators of the Texans (Rick Dennison) and the Jaguars (Dirk Koetter). Ex-Bills head coach Gregg Williams canceled an interview with the Broncos, deciding he did not want to leave New Orleans and giving Koetter a strong vote of confidence. Williams and Koetter previously worked together on the staff of Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville.

Below is a link to an interesting story in the Denver Post on how the Broncos are taking a very Madison Avenue approach, if you will, to their interview process in terms of identifying a candidate who projects the proper public image.

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_17058550

---Mark Gaughan

Your choice on Auburn's stars?

Auburn's two biggest stars both played big in Monday night's national title game victory over Oregon. Presuming they both declare for the NFL Draft, what's your choice?

---Mark Gaughan


 

Remembrances of Cookie

Here are some excerpts of interviews I've done over the years related to Cookie Gilchrist:

From Hall of Fame guard Billy Shaw: "Cookie didn’t take a back seat to anybody. There are a lot of Cookie stories. I remember the first game that Cookie played with us. It was an exhibition game in New Haven, Conn. We rode a bus from Buffalo to New Haven. We played the game and Cookie had just come with us. He knew two plays - 34 slide and 35 slide. It was straight ahead runs. We played the first half and came in at halftime and Cookie completely undressed. He took every thread that he had on off. And I remember Lou Saban telling him that, ‘In America we play two halves, Cookie.’ That was his ritual. He took everything off. He did not take a shower. He just took it all off and cooled off and put it back on again. He got like he came into this world. We thought, what have we got ahold of here? But it didn't take just a couple plays to know we had something special."

More Shaw: "There was none any better than Cookie in hitting the hole from tackle to tackle. He would punish the blocker in front of him if he didn’t get out of the way. He would punish the defensive linebackers and the big tackles. He was just a marvelous player. The sweeps and the long traps got their feet antsy, and then it was much easier to run up front. I have scars in my back now where someone would stalemate me and here comes Cookie. He didn’t care what color jersey you had on, he was going forward."

From Paul Maguire: "Cookie was the toughest guy I ever saw as a running back he was the biggest one I think ever to play at that time - at 238 pounds. And he feared absolutely nothing. I remember the first year in ‘64 we went to play the Boston Patriots in the last game. We had them by a half a game and we had to win the game to play in the championship game. We’re in Boston. Usually the guys are sitting around and playing cards before the game. Everybody’s sitting in these little cubicles thinking about the game, and Saban comes out to say something. And just as he did, Cookie jumps up and says “I’m going to tell you guys something. I’m going to kick the (xxx) out of every guy in this room if we lose this game, including the coaching staff. I’ll tell you what: Everybody sank back into their seats for a second and thought about this, and we went out and beat the hell out of them."

From the late Jack Kemp: “Cookie was better than Jim Brown. Jim Brown is a good friend of mine, but Cookie in my opinion was better all around. He could block. He could catch passes. He could tackle. He could kick field goals. Jim Brown was the greatest runner. Cookie was greater all-around. Cookie almost single-handedly beat the Patriots in that famous game in Fenway Park back in ‘64 in the snowstorm when we won the AFL East."

(Kemp was being a little modest. Gilchrist played a great game, but Kemp also passed for 286 yards, threw one TD and ran for two more.)

There are more stories in the obituary in Tuesday's editions of The Buffalo News.

Also: Gilchrist's nephew, Thomas Gilchrist, said condolences can be sent care of Cookie to 322 Mall Blvd. Suite 164, Monroeville, Pa., 15146.

---Mark Gaughan

 

 

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