Archive for Friday, January 16, 2004

Cunningham considered, but Vermeil in no hurry

January 16, 2004


— Dick Vermeil signed a two-year contract extension Thursday to coach the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now, he has to find a defensive coordinator to replace Greg Robinson, and a former Chiefs head coach may be at the top of his list.

Vermeil's contract signing was a formality -- earlier this month he told his staff and Chiefs president Carl Peterson he would remain for at least one and possibly two more years.

Vermeil said he was not close to deciding on a replacement for Robinson, who resigned Tuesday.

"I'm not going to rush into it," he said. "It's a very important decision. I've had players visiting all morning. It's been enjoyable. I have no idea when we'll do something."

Peterson said he hoped Vermeil would consider his predecessor as head coach, Gunther Cunningham, now the linebackers coach of the Tennessee Titans. Cunningham was Kansas City's defensive coordinator before being named head coach. He was 16-16 in two seasons before Peterson fired him abruptly after convincing Vermeil to come out of retirement.

"I have a lot of respect for Gunther Cunningham as a football coach, as do many people in the National Football League," Peterson said.

Indeed, Cunningham was interviewing this week with two other teams, the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.

Cunningham, who found out on the Internet that the Chiefs had fired him, said earlier he still considered Peterson a friend.

"He loves Kansas City, his family does," Peterson said Wednesday. "He's very interested in coming back here, if it's a possibility."

Safety Jerome Woods, who played five seasons for Cunningham, said he would welcome him back with open arms.

"I think we need to get that 'Gun' attitude back on our team," he said. "Not only for the defense, but for the whole team. He's one of those guys who brings that enthusiasm. I think our defense needs that. I know I loved playing for him and a lot of the other guys feel the same way."

Vermeil has mentioned two of his assistant coaches, Peter Giunta and Joe Vitt, as potential candidates for the coordinator's job. Giunta, Vermeil's defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, coaches defensive backs, and Vitt is in charge of the linebackers.

Vermeil, who won the Super Bowl with the Rams, just completed his third season at Kansas City. The Chiefs, 13-3 in the regular season, were eliminated from the AFC playoffs Sunday, losing 38-31 to the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'm already excited about getting ready for next season," he said.

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