NFL Notes: Browns hire Mike Pettine as HC

NFL Notes: Browns hire Mike Pettine as HC
January 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Mike Pettine coached at William Tennent HS in Warminster from 1995-96, and at North Penn HS in Lansdale from 1997-2001. (USA Today Images)

Update: 3:50 p.m.

CLEVELAND -- The Browns have hired Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their coach, ending a twisting, nearly four-week search.

Pettine finalized a contract Thursday with the Browns, who fired Rob Chudzinski on Dec. 29 following one season. 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 is popular with players. He'll inherit a Cleveland team that went 4-12 this season after losing its last seven games.

Pettine emerged as the favorite to become Cleveland's seventh full-time coach since 1999 -- and fourth 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.

Pettine was scheduled to be introduced at a late afternoon news conference.

His hiring ends a 25-day odyssey for the Browns. It was a search filled with rumors, denials, withdrawals and far too much drama for a franchise seeking stability.

NFL deems Welker hit legal
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The NFL's officiating chief has cleared Broncos receiver Wes Welker of any wrongdoing for his hit that knocked Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib out of Sunday's AFC Championship.

"It was a legal hit," Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said on the NFL Network Wednesday night.

On Monday, New England coach Bill Belichick blasted Welker for the hit, calling it "one of the worst plays" he'd seen in nearly four decades of coaching.

There will be no discipline for Welker; Blandino said there was simply no infraction of the rules.

Talib left the game with a knee injury and didn't return in Denver's 26-16 win that sent the top-seeded Broncos to the Super Bowl.