Homecoming for Emmitt, Mariucci, Holmgren, Dungy in Week Five
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - It's the NFL's version of Homecoming Weekend in the NFL.
Emmitt Smith rides back into Dallas, Steve Mariucci heads back to San Francisco, Mike Holmgren makes a second trip to Green Bay and Tony Dungy travels to Tampa Bay in Week Five.
"This is like the reunion weekend," Mariucci said. "But when you think about it, this is the sign of the times. That's not going to happen very often. People are going to be changing teams, for whatever the reason."
Smith refused to ride into the sunset as a Dallas Cowboy. On Sunday, he will share the spotlight with the new sheriff in town when the Arizona Cardinals (1-3) visit the Cowboys (2-1).
Not part of Bill Parcells' rebuilding program in Dallas, the NFL's all-time leading rusher departed for the desert.
"I think he got what he wanted," Smith said.
The 34-year-old Smith rushed for 17,162 yards and 153 touchdowns in 13 glorious years with the Cowboys, winning three Super Bowl titles.
Last October 27, he passed Walter Payton (16,726) for first place on the NFL's all-time rushing list, but his streak of 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons also came to an end in 2002, when he rushed for 975 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.
An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Smith incensed his former teammates when he was quoted in a Sports Illustrated article as saying he felt "like a diamond surrounded by trash" in his final season in Dallas. Smith apologized for those remarks, but some of the Cowboys may be using that as motivation.
Overall, Smith has produced 193 yards on 59 carries, an average of just 3.4 yards per carry, for Arizona.
Dallas is a different team with Parcells at the helm. After opening the season with a home loss to Atlanta, the Cowboys beat the New York Giants and New York Jets - two of Parcells' former teams - with a bye week in between.
"I guess it's different than going to Houston or Jacksonville," said Mariucci, who signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Lions after getting fired by the Niners last January. "I'll know half the people in the stands and I'll know the players. It's kind of a neat story."
San Francisco appears to be a team in turmoil after last week's 35-7 loss at Minnesota. Terrell Owens, the Niners' star receiver, expressed his frustration by berating offensive coordinator Greg Knapp on the sidelines during the game.
Owens' tantrums are no longer Mariucci's problem. That is now an issue that must be addressed by coach Dennis Erickson. Owens met with Erickson on Monday and was not fined or suspended for his actions.
The personable Mariucci had his share of problems with Owens over the past few years in San Francisco. But that did not cost him his job.
The 49ers claimed that Mariucci wanted to expand his role in the organization and add the title of vice president of football operations. General manager Terry Donahue said there were "philosophical differences" between Mariucci and John York, the 49ers' owner representative, that made it impossible for Mariucci to continue as coach.
Mariucci compiled a 60-43 record with two division titles and four playoff berths in six years as Niners coach, but never went to the Super Bowl.
Erickson is Mariucci's successor to a job in which the bar of success is raised quite high. A three-game losing streak has spelled immediate trouble for Erickson, who had a 31-33 record in four years as coach of the Seattle Seahawks from 1995-98.
In 1999, Mike Holmgren made a rousing return to Lambeau Field, leading the Seattle Seahawks to a 27-7 win over the Green Bay Packers. He comes back for a second reunion Sunday. This time, he will be accompanied by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.
The only coach to succeed in the prodigious shadow of Vince Lombardi, Holmgren won a Super Bowl, took the Packers to another and guided the franchise to six playoff appearances in his seven-year tenure.
But Holmgren left Green Bay after the 1998 season to become coach-general manager of the Seahawks. Holmgren, who has taken the Seahawks to just one playoff appearance, relinquished his general manager duties after last season. But he returns with his Seahawks (3-0) atop the NFC West.
In Holmgren's final season in Green Bay, Hasselbeck spent the year on the Packers' practice squad. He was a backup to Brett Favre for the next two seasons before Holmgren acquired Hasselbeck in 2001 for draft picks.
Rhodes was fired as Packers coach after just one season, posting an 8-8 record in 1999. He also served as defensive coordinator for the Packers in 1992 and 1993.
Dungy celebrates his 48th birthday Monday by returning to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers (2-1) - the team he coached for six years but couldn't take to the Super Bowl. Dungy picked a good time to come back, with his Indianapolis Colts unbeaten at 4-0.
The Bucs had made three postseason appearances in 20 years until Dungy turned them into a perennial playoff team. But they advanced only as far as the NFC championship game in 1999. That was followed by losses in the wild card round the next two years at Philadelphia.
Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer fired Dungy after the 2001 season and targeted Parcells as his successor. After Parcells jilted the Bucs, Glazer sent four draft picks and $8 million to the Oakland Raiders for Jon Gruden. It turned out to be a bargain when Gruden led the Bucs to their first Super Bowl title.
Dungy landed on his feet in Indianapolis and guided the Colts to the postseason, but he experienced more playoff failure with an embarrassing 41-0 loss to the New York Jets in the wild card round last season.
"My only hope is this doesn't get turned into a sideshow," Dungy said. "Playing on Monday night against the defending champions, we're 4-0, that should be the story line. I think that would be a great story line."
A total of 25 Bucs, including the nucleus of defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch, cornerback Ronde Barber, quarterback Brad Johnson, receiver Keyshawn Johnson and fullback Mike Alstott, all played for Dungy.
"It's definitely going to be special," Lynch said. "But it's going to be a battle. He's in here trying to beat us and we're trying to beat him."
The AFC West rivals have played overtime contests in Kansas City each of the last two years. The Broncos pulled out a 37-34 victory last October 20, but haven't won in consecutive years at Arrowhead since 1976-79.
Sunday's game matches up two of the NFL's highest-scoring offenses. The Chiefs are averaging 31.8 points per game and are on pace to score 508 points, which would surpass the franchise record of 467 set last season. Denver is second overall with 118 points, averaging 29.5 per game.
The Miami Dolphins (2-1) visit the Giants (2-1) in a marquee interconference matchup.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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