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Marino changes his mind

Dan Marino's visit was a surprise to Wayne Huizenga. The purpose of it was even more stunning.

Five weeks removed from asking for an executive position with the Miami Dolphins and only three weeks after accepting the senior vice president job created solely for him, Marino resigned yesterday and left the team he quarterbacked for 17 seasons.

As recently as Sunday, Marino denied reports saying he was having second thoughts about assuming control of the Dolphins' football operations. But at 2:45 p.m. yesterday, he made an unannounced visit to Huizenga's office and quit, spurning attempts the owner made to change his mind.

"I heard about it on the television a couple of days ago, but I didn't believe it," Huizenga said. "Needless to say, we're disappointed. Dan is a great guy and we like him a lot. He would have been good for this organization."

A telephone message left at Marino's home was not returned. A woman who answered the phone and refused to give her name said he could not be reached, and it was believed Maaino was traveling to New York to tape a Super Bowl wrapup show for HBO's "Inside the NFL."

"I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of either my family or the Dolphins to assume the role as the team's senior vice president of football operations," Marino said in a statement released by the team.

Marino played for the Dolphins from 1983-99 and holds NFL passing records with 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns.

He planned to leave his analyst jobs at CBS Sports and HBO to come back to the Dolphins, beginning a full-time role next week. Marino had been part of at least one team personnel meeting and was at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., for one day, but never took control of the football operations. Don Strock, Marino's close friend and former backup at quarterback, said the timing of rejoining the Dolphins might have been wrong for Marino.

"He's his own man," Strock said. "I'm sure his family became involved, and they decided what was best for them. He has to do what is right. But I know one day -- I don't know when -- he's going to be back in football."

Huizenga also acknowledged that Marino's sudden departure might present a public relations problem for the franchise, which has missed the playoffs the last two seasons and has many fans pleading for drastic change.

"I can't worry about perception at this stage of the game," Huizenga said. "All we can do is put our best foot forward and see what happens."

Gibbs names staff

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs will have two assistant head coaches, plus separate offensive and defensive coordinators, when he returns to the Washington sideline after an 11-year retirement. Nearly all of the names have been public knowledge for weeks, but some of the titles were surprises. Former Buffalo coach Gregg Williams was listed as "assistant head coach -- defense," while Greg Blache is defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. Blache spent the last five seasons as Chicago's defensive coordinator. Joe Bugel, who built "The Hogs" as offensive line coach under Gibbs in the 1980s, returns as "assistant head coach -- offense." Don Breaux, the running backs coach during Gibbs's first stint, is the offensive coordinator. As expected, longtime NFL offensive guru Ernie Zampese will be a consultant for the offense. Stan Hixon, receivers coach at LSU, will hold the same job with the Redskins. The only holdover from Steve Spurrier's staff is defensive and special teams assistant Kirk Olivadotti . . . Bengals tackle Levi Jones was released from jail after his arrest stemming from a fight among nightclub patrons in Houston. Jones and cousin Fred Robinson were arrested early Monday outside a downtown club hours after the Super Bowl. They tried to take a night stick from a police officer who was attempting to disperse a crowd, police said . . . Steve Szabo was hired as the Bills' defensive backs coach. Szabo has 34 years of coaching experience, including nine (1994-02) as the Jaguars' linebackers coach and a three-year stint as Boston College's defensive coordinator.

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