Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eagles Fire Kotite; Vermeil on Deck?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Eagles Fire Kotite; Vermeil on Deck?

Article excerpt

Win or lose, Rich Kotite's chances of remaining as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles all but evaporated shortly after Jeffrey Lurie wrote the $185 million check to buy the team last May.

Lurie fired Kotite on Monday, two days after the Eagles closed a 7-9 season with their seventh successive loss, a 33-30 defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The parting appeared amiable. The two men stood together as Lurie announced that "Rich Kotite would no longer be the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles."

In the aftermath of the firing, speculation increased that former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil was a candidate to return to the team.

Lurie said he would pay Kotite the estimated $500,000 he would have received in 1995, which was the final year of his contract, and the two men shook hands.

The move was a foregone conclusion after the team's terrible descent from playoff caliber to sub-.500, although Lurie insisted he hadn't made up his mind until after the game against the Bengals. The Eagles lost by giving up two field goals in the final three seconds.

"I really wanted to let everything play itself out," Lurie said. "You can't judge a coach or a team until the end of the season."

Still, Lurie's comments when he bought the team left many with the feeling that it would take a monumental season for Kotite, hired by former owner Norman Braman, to keep his job.

In making such a substantial investment - the price Lurie paid Braman was the highest ever for a professional sports franchise - the new owner said he would settle for nothing less than championships.

"The only thing I'm interested in is winning Super Bowls," Lurie said then. "You only go through life once, and winning is the bottom line when it comes to football."

On Friday, Vermeil met for several hours with Lurie and said Sunday he was interested in returning to the team he led to the 1980 Super Bowl. Lurie said he had talked with Vermeil in an "advisory capacity" since before the season.

However, Lurie emphasized, "No job offer has been made to Dick Vermeil. …

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