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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, January 12, 2002

Giants fire vonAppen as special teams coach

Associated Press

Former University of Hawai'i football head coach Fred vonAppen yesterday was fired as the New York Giants' special teams coach.

VonAppen, who was with UH from 1996-98, was fired after one season as an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings in 2000.

This past season, the special teams struggled. The Giants finished 31st and last in the NFL in kickoff returns with an average of 17.8 yards. The team's punt return average of 8.6 yards was 24th in the league.

The punt team was 26th in the NFL, yielding an average return of 12.7 yards, while the kickoff team was 27th, allowing an average return of 23.5 yards. Their opponents' average starting point after a kickoff was the 32.9-yard line, the worst figure in the NFL.

"I've known Fred a lot of years, and I have tremendous respect for the job he has done here," Giants head coach Jim Fassel said. "Fred and I came to an understanding that this was the best decision for both of us. We have great regard for Fred, and we've given him an option to consider another role in our organization as he thinks about the future. I've started the process to replace Fred. I'm looking at who the best available people are."


• Glenn challenges suspension: The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the New England Patriots, challenging star receiver Terry Glenn's playoff suspension.

The Patriots suspended Glenn on Thursday for repeatedly missing practices and meetings. The NFLPA said the move is invalid because Glenn was excused from any practices missed because of obligations the team was fully aware of.

"The discipline in this is clearly excessive," NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen said. "It is unfortunate that the Patriots are intent on excluding one of their best players from postseason play, but we are confident that when all of the facts come out in arbitration, the discipline will be rescinded by the arbitrator and Terry will be granted his full back pay."

Patriots spokesman Stacey James announced the suspension Thursday, saying Glenn was guilty of "multiple unexcused absences." It was the third suspension for Glenn this season.

The Patriots, winners of the AFC East title, start playoff competition Jan. 19.


• O'Leary hired as assistant: George O'Leary can now add this to his resume: assistant head coach, Minnesota Vikings.

O'Leary got another chance when one of his former high school players — new Vikings head coach Mike Tice — hired him yesterday.

Nearly a month ago, O'Leary resigned in disgrace only five days after getting his dream job as head coach at Notre Dame. He quit following revelations he had lied on his resume about his academic and athletic credentials.

"I'm just happy to be part of the picture right now," O'Leary said. "I'm looking forward to it. I've been dealing with a lot of other problems as you know, but I'm looking forward to coaching, and that's what I really enjoy."

O'Leary will coach the Vikings' defensive line while serving as assistant head coach.


• Bears: Scott Dragos, waived by Chicago on Nov. 13, re-signed with the playoff-bound team yesterday. Dragos will give the Bears a backup to Stanley Pritchett, who became the starting fullback after Daimon Shelton was suspended four game for violating the league's banned substance policy.

• Dolphins: Miami rookie receiver Chris Chambers practiced yesterday for the first time this week but on a limited basis, and his status remained questionable for tomorrow's playoff game against Baltimore. Chambers, who leads the Dolphins with 883 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, has been slowed by sprains in both ankles.

• Jaguars: Owner Wayne Weaver calls the idea of looking into hiring coach Steve Spurrier "absolutely ridiculous," even though Spurrier is immensely popular in Jacksonville. Weaver has made it clear Tom Coughlin will continue as Jacksonville's coach. The owner is in the process of working out a contract extension for Coughlin, even though Coughlin is 13-19 over the past two seasons.

• Packers: Green Bay might be down to its fifth strong safety tomorrow against the San Francisco 49ers. Rookie Bhawoh Jue missed yesterday's practice with sore ribs and Billy Jenkins, who had one tackle in six games for the Packers his season, took his place.