Football

Belichick gets 3rd Coach of the Year nod

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds wore a sombrero during an interview with television reporter Oliver Cruz. The Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds wore a sombrero during an interview with television reporter Oliver Cruz. The Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. AP

DALLAS — Bill Belichick is closing in on Don Shula.

The New England coach won The Associated Press 2010 NFL Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, the third time Belichick has earned the honor. Belichick, who also won in 2003 and 2007, now trails only Don Shula, a four-time winner of the award.

For leading the Patriots to a 14-2 record, the best in the league, Belichick received 30 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. That easily beat Raheem Morris, who led a turnaround in Tampa Bay and got 11½ votes.

Belichick has overseen a transition in New England to a younger team, particularly on defense. Of course, he still has Offensive Player of the Year Tom Brady at quarterback.

"I will say the foundation of the Patriots organization, which starts with Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick, has not changed since the day I arrived," Brady said. "They have and will always do what is in the best interest of the team, and they will continue to find selfless players that love to work hard, compete and strive to be the best they can possibly be."

Belichick's record with the Patriots is 126-50, plus a 14-5 mark in the postseason, with losses in the last three tries with teams that went a collective 40-8. His career winning percentage of .716 ranks eighth, tied with Hall of Famer Paul Brown.

Super Bowl snippets

■ One of the state's largest utility providers says rolling statewide electrical outages will not affect Cowboys Stadium, the site of Sunday's Super Bowl.

Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said the stadium in suburban Arlington was exempt from outages that started about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Molina said other Super Bowl facilities, such as team hotels, were not exempt.

The outages were planned for 15-minute intervals in response to high demand from a rare ice storm. Oncor serves about 7 million customers in Texas.

■ The Green Bay Packers are moving their Super Bowl practices indoors because of snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

The Packers were scheduled to practice outdoors at SMU but instead are shifting to a local high school that has an enclosed facility.

Green Bay's opponent in Sunday's Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers, also have gone to their backup plan because of the weather, practicing indoors at TCU.

■ Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey sat out practice Wednesday but still expects to play in the Super Bowl.

Pouncey sustained a high left ankle sprain in the AFC championship game. He hopes to practice Friday and reiterated that his chances of playing against the Green Bay Packers are 75 percent.

■ Usher and Slash are heading to the Super Bowl.

A person familiar with the plans for Sunday's halftime show told The Associated Press that R&B star Usher and former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash are slated to make surprise appearances.

Harrison heckles commissioner some more

James Harrison has sarcastically offered a solution to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for their disagreement over hard hits: Use a pillow to soften the blows delivered by the Steelers linebacker.

Harrison was fined $100,000 for illegal hits this season by the NFL. He says he feels as if the league was "looking for a poster boy."

In a deadpan delivery at Tuesday's media day, Harrison said: "I don't want to hurt nobody. I don't want to step on nobody's foot or hurt their toe. I don't want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on this field fly into their eye and make their eye hurt.

"I just want to tackle them softly on the ground and, if y'all can, we'll lay a pillow down where I'm going to tackle them, so they don't hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell."

Eagles name new defensive coordinator

Juan Castillo is the new defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced on Wednesday.

The Eagles also added offensive line coach Howard Mudd to Andy Reid's staff.

Philadelphia elected to stay in house, switching over Castillo, who spent 13 seasons as an Eagles offensive line coach, to the defensive side of the ball.

Insurance grievance denied

An arbitrator has denied a grievance by the NFL Players Association that sought to make teams pay health insurance premiums for active players after the current labor deal expires March 3.

Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in the NFL's favor Wednesday.

The union filed the grievance in December, saying clubs should have to continue to pay for benefits through Aug. 31, when the insurance plan year ends. The NFL argued that if there is no new collective bargaining agreement reached by the deadline, insurance would need to paid by the players or union.

Das' decision comes a day after special master Stephen Burbank rejected the union's request that $4 billion the NFL would be due from TV contracts be put in escrow if there is a lockout.

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