After nearly a month of twists, turns and talk, the Browns found their man.
Mike Pettine is Cleveland’s new coach.
Buffalo’s defensive coordinator, who met with team officials for the first time just a week ago, finalized a five-year contract Thursday to become the Browns’ seventh full-time coach since 1999. The team fired Rob Chudzinski on Dec. 29 following one season and embarked on a winding search that ended with Pettine.
“We wanted to be thorough from the start,” CEO Joe Banner said, “and we interviewed as many people as we could. From that group, we hired the best individual for this job. Our players and fans are going to really enjoy Mike Pettine and his leadership style.”
The 47-year-old Pettine, the son of a legendary Pennsylvania high school coach, spent one year with the Bills after four as Rex Ryan’s defensive coordinator with the New York Jets.
With his clean-shaven head and no-nonsense approach, Pettine, who also was an assistant coach with Baltimore, is popular with players. He’ll inherit a Cleveland team that went 4-12 this season after losing its last seven games.
“To compete in the AFC North, you have to be willing to bloody your nose a little bit,” Pettine said. “That’s the mentality we’re going to take here. This is team is going to be built on toughness.”
Pettine emerged as the favorite to become Cleveland’s fourth coach in six years as the Browns eliminated candidates and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, considered the front-runner when the search started, told the team to move on without him.
Man gets 57 years in prison in Sean Taylor’s death
The man who prosecutors say fired the shot that killed Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor during a botched 2007 burglary was sentenced Thursday to more than 57 years in state prison.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy imposed the sentence on Eric Rivera, 23, one of five Fort Myers-area men charged with Taylor’s death after they broke into his house looking to steal cash. One has pleaded guilty and three others are still awaiting trial.
Rivera confessed to police on videotape that he shot Taylor after the NFL player confronted them at his bedroom door with a machete. In the confession, Rivera also said the group didn’t realize Taylor would be home with a knee injury instead of playing a Redskins game against Tampa Bay.
“He lost his life defending and protecting his family,” said Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin in a closing statement. “They kicked the door in and they shot him and killed him, for no good reason.”
Testifying in his own defense last fall, Rivera claimed the confession was false and improperly coerced, and that someone else in the group shot Taylor with a 9mm handgun. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder and armed burglary. He was originally charged with first-degree murder but was ineligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the killing.
In a brief statement, Rivera told members of Taylor’s family he was sorry for the killing and that Taylor was “a good man.”
“I live with his death every day. I’m going to have to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Around the league
Vikings • Minnesota said star running back Adrian Peterson had an operation Thursday to repair his adductor muscle, which is part of the groin. The team said Peterson was expected to be fully recovered in about six weeks, giving him plenty of time to heal before offseason workouts get going.
Cowboys • Dallas signed kicker Dan Bailey to a new seven-year contract through the 2020 season. Bailey was set to be a restricted free agent. In three seasons with the Cowboys, Bailey has made 91 percent of his field goals (89 of 98) and all 123 extra-point attempts.
Steelers • Pittsburgh hired former Titans boss Mike Munchak as its new offensive line coach. Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard during his 12-year playing career with the Houston Oilers, went 22-26 in three seasons with Tennessee. He was fired by the Titans on Jan. 4 over a disagreement with upper management on which direction to take the franchise.