Giants defensive chief tabbed by Panthers

Posted: January 26, 2002

John Fox came to the Carolina Panthers with a good reputation and a great recommendation.

Following a 1-15 season and the firing of George Seifert, the Panthers yesterday hired Fox as their new coach, hoping the New York Giants defensive coordinator can pump energy into the team.

Fox, never a head coach at any level, got a glowing review from Wellington Mara. The Giants owner reminded Panthers owner Jerry Richardson he also had recommended Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry for head-coaching jobs during their careers.

"Well was absolutely the most enthusiastic supporter for John," Richardson said. "In doing our research, the thing that kept coming back from everyone was John's energy level and enthusiasm. Well felt very strong about that, too."

Fox was Carolina's third choice for the job. They were spurned by Steve Spurrier, who went to Washington, and Tony Dungy, who went to Indianapolis.

When Fox finally received the offer, a four-year deal worth about $1 million annually, he felt relieved his chase for a head-coaching job had finally ended.

"I think maybe I let out a sigh," Fox said. "It's been a long process. I always had the philosophy that I was going to do the best darn job in the one I have and someone will notice and I'll finally get it."

Fox, 46, vowed to improve the running game of the Panthers, who have not been strong in that area in years. Seifert, fired last month after three years with Carolina, ran the West Coast Offense.

Fox will be the first Carolina head coach in four seasons who will not have general-manager duties, although the Panthers still aren't hiring a GM.

Noteworthy

The Buffalo Bills fired offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard after the team finished 3-13 this season, their worst record in 16 years. *

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