John Fox turned around a floundering franchise before. The Denver Broncos are counting on him to do it again.
Fox was picked over four other candidates to replace Josh McDaniels, who was fired Dec. 6 amid the Broncos’ worst slide in four decades and the embarrassing Spygate II videotaping scandal.
The lost season led to a restructuring of the front office and the return of Hall of Famer John Elway as chief football executive. On Thursday, Elway hired Fox, the 55-year-old former Carolina Panthers coach to a four-year contract.
“For what this building needed, John Fox was the perfect fit for us,” Elway said outside team headquarters before zipping off in his Bentley on Thursday evening.
Fox went 78-74 including playoffs in nine seasons with the Panthers, who didn’t renew his contract following an NFL-worst 2-14 season.
Fox was a Kansas University assistant coach under Mike Gottfried in 1983. He served as the defensive-backs coach at KU and helped lead the Jayhawks to a 4-6-1 record that included victories over No. 10 USC and No. 19 Missouri.
St. Louis OC to coach Browns
Cleveland — Pat Shurmur quickly turned rookie quarterback Sam Bradford into a rising NFL star. Shurmur’s next project will be tougher.
The Cleveland Browns are no easy fix.
Shurmur, St. Louis’ offensive coordinator the past two years, was hired by the Browns on Thursday, ending a search for their fifth coach since 1999 that began when team president Mike Holmgren fired Eric Mangini on Jan. 3 after his second straight 11-loss season.
Shurmur isn’t a big-name hire, and his addition won’t trigger a celebration by Browns fans or a rush of season-ticket requests.
Jets CB Coleman injures knee
Florham Park, N.J. — The New York Jets are hoping they aren’t down a defensive back against the New England Patriots.
Backup cornerback Drew Coleman, the team’s nickel back and a key special-teams player, injured a knee late in practice Thursday, and his status for the playoff game Sunday at Foxborough was uncertain.
Wide receiver-kick returner Brad Smith (groin) was limited and his status is also uncertain.
Lawrence Taylor pleads guilty
New City, N.Y. — Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty Thursday to sexual misconduct and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute, misdemeanor charges that carry no jail time but require him to register as a sex offender.
The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years’ probation.
“She told me she was 19,” Taylor, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said in court as he admitted having intercourse with the prostitute, who turned out to be a Bronx runaway. Taylor said he now knows the girl was 16 and legally incapable of consent.
He said he paid her $300.
Frank Robinson hospitalized
Paradise Valley, Ariz. — Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was hospitalized Thursday because of a rapid heartbeat and dizziness, and later returned to a hotel to meet with baseball executives.
The 75-year-old Robinson said doctors at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital told him he was “a little dry, not dehydrated, but a little dry.”
Otherwise, he said, they could find no reason that his heart rate jumped to 190. The typical rate for a healthy man is 60 to 80.
Yanks reach deal with Soriano
New York — A person familiar with the negotiations tells the Associated Press that the New York Yankees have reached a three-year agreement with AL saves leader Rafael Soriano.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal has not been finalized. Soriano must still pass a physical to complete the contract, which could be worth $35 million.
Gregg, Orioles finalize $10M deal
Baltimore — The Baltimore Orioles have finalized o a $10 million, two-year contract with right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg.
Blazers G Roy to have surgery
Portland, Ore. — Portland Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy will have arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees next week.
The team says there is no timetable for the All-Star guard’s return.
Roy has missed 16 games this season because of soreness in his knees, which he has said is caused by a lack of cartilage.
Early-grant offers squashed
San Antonio — The NCAA squashed a proposal Thursday that would have stopped college coaches from offering scholarships to students as young as middle-schoolers, one of several closely watched measures that were either defeated or set aside by NCAA rule-makers.
The legislative council also voted down tougher academic restrictions for incoming basketball players at the NCAA’s annual convention. Another proposal intended to tighten the use of college athletes in promotional activities was sent back to NCAA members for more comment.
Ex-Longhorn headed to SMU
Dallas — Former Texas basketball player Shawn Williams is transferring to SMU.
The Dallas native left the Longhorns just before the season started in November. He played in seven of Texas’ first eight games as a freshman in 2009 before injuring an ankle.