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Raiders' Turner becomes latest NFL coach fired

1/3/2006 - NFL Oakland Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Al Davis preaches winning, and for three
seasons now the Oakland Raiders have been losing.

Norv Turner didn't produce the quick turnaround expected of him
in his two seasons as coach of the Raiders, so Davis fired him
Tuesday -- his third coaching change in five years.

"We want to win. The Raider fans deserve it. The Raider players
deserve it, even my organization deserves it,'' Davis said in a
conference call after meeting with Turner earlier in the day. "You
have to win and you have to win with a vision for the Super Bowl.
That's our passion here.

"I just didn't feel the fit was right, and I think he agreed
with me.''

The 53-year-old Turner, who had a year remaining on his contract
worth about $1.75 million, knew his job was in jeopardy for the
last two months. He struggled to get the most out of star receiver
Randy Moss and an offense also including quarterback Kerry Collins,
receiver Jerry Porter and running back LaMont Jordan. The Raiders
managed only one victory in their division during Turner's tenure.

Oakland lost its final six games and eight of nine to finish
4-12, one fewer victory than Turner produced in his first season.
The Raiders have strung together three straight losing seasons for
the first time since Davis came aboard in 1963 to coach and
eventually own the team.

"I don't think this was a surprise to anyone. It was speculated
over the last two months,'' Turner said. "I wanted to be here, and
you take a job with the idea of doing a good job, getting the job
done and being successful.''

Turner grew up in nearby Martinez rooting for the Raiders. His
firing leaves eight coaching vacancies in the NFL.

Detroit fired Steve Mariucci in November and Kansas City's Dick
Vermeil retired on Sunday. Other coaches who have been fired: Mike
Martz of St. Louis, Jim Haslett of New Orleans, Mike Tice of
Minnesota, Mike Sherman of Green Bay and Dom Capers of Houston.

Davis is left looking for another coach. He ousted Bill Callahan
following the 2003 season, a year removed from the Raiders' 48-21
Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.

"The No. 1 thing I've learned in this league, and what
everyone's looking for, is the quick fix,'' Turner said. "I'm not
sure there's such a thing.''

Turner was not necessarily Davis' top choice to replace
Callahan. Dallas offensive coordinator Sean Payton told people he
thought the job was his, but things didn't work out and he stayed
with the Cowboys.

Turner had the support of many of his players, some of whom
insisted they should get the blame for the team's failures.

"I think he did what he could,'' linebacker Danny Clark said.
"Ultimately, everybody involved didn't get it done. Unfortunately,
this is a production-based business and if you're not winning the
weight falls on someone.''

The Raiders made major strides defensively this season and
thought they would have one of the best offenses in the league with
the addition of wideout Moss and Jordan at running back.

Turner, who has a reputation as a talented offensive coach, was
hired as the organization's 14th head coach in January 2004 to
invigorate a franchise that flopped after losing the Super Bowl.
There were big expectations to produce an immediate turnaround.

Davis will seek "someone who will bring a hope and a passion to
our fans that we can get this done and get it done quickly.''
Senior personnel chief Michael Lombardi will immediately begin
heading the coaching search.

"This organization's not going to turn back,'' Davis said.
"We're going to find a way. I'd like my next head coach to be
winning-oriented. I want the right guy.''

Oakland's ineffective offense managed only 51 points and six
touchdowns in its last five games and the Raiders failed to win a
division game for the first time in Davis' tenure as owner.

"We didn't score enough points with the firepower we have,''
Davis said.

They were 1-11 against the AFC West during Turner's two seasons.

"It's definitely a sad day, because Norv is a great guy, a
great players' coach,'' fullback Zack Crockett said. "It's sad
things weren't better here for him and we didn't win for him. You
hate to see a guy like him go.''

Turner said he will keep his options open after giving himself a
little time to deal with leaving Oakland.

"I imagine based on readings I'm getting and the feeling I'm
getting, there's people interested in me being an offensive
coordinator again, so I'll look into that,'' Turner said. "I
wouldn't rule anything out, but I do know I want to coach.''

Turner spent nearly seven seasons as Redskins coach, leading
them to a 49-59-1 record and just one playoff berth from 1994-2000
before being fired with three games left in the 2000 season. He
took the Raiders to Washington in November and beat the Redskins
16-13, and Turner was emotional afterward.

Oakland didn't win again.

Potential successors to Turner include Baltimore offensive
coordinator Jim Fassel, Ravens quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel,
former Raiders coach and current NFL vice president Art Shell, and
Fresno State coach Pat Hill, who has NFL experience.

Davis has repeatedly said he regretted firing Shell after a 9-7
season in 1994.

Martz's name has also been mentioned, but Davis said he would
have concerns about the health problems that forced him to step
down in October with a heart ailment.