Second Modell meeting links Belichick to Browns' job


NEW YORK -- Bill Belichick will be back in Cleveland tonight, according to two NFL sources. That makes it unlikely he'll be named head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but quite possible he'll be named the new head coach of the Browns tomorrow or Wednesday.

The New York Giants' 38-year-old defensive coordinator -- who interviewed at Tampa and Cleveland last week -- will meet again with Browns owner Art Modell tonight at Modell's home. It is believed that if they can finalize terms of a contract and the amount of control Belichick will be given, he will succeed the fired Bud Carson and interim Jim Shofner as the Browns' coach.

Modell -- who also is seriously considering Los Angeles Raiders quarterbacks coach Mike White -- wouldn't confirm that he's close to completing his search.

"I can't tell you that," he said yesterday. "I'll know more in a few days."

One source said that White, who was interviewed two weeks ago, will be called back for another interview. If that happens, it will probably happen tomorrow. Modell did say that he wants his new head coach to accompany executive vice president of football operations Ernie Accorsi, director of player personnel Shofner and director of pro personnel Mike Lombardi to the scouting combines Thursday at Indianapolis.

Meanwhile in Tampa, Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse is believed to be close to hiring Richard Williamson, who became the team's interim coach after Ray Perkins was fired.

Assistant to the president Phil Krueger said yesterday he was aware of Belichick's appointment today with the Browns.

"I talked to Bill and told him to go ahead with his plans," said Krueger, who added that Belichick was still a candidate for the job.

NBC analyst and former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan and Miami quarterbacks coach Gary Stevens also interviewed with the Buccaneers last week. Walsh rejected the Bucs' offer Tuesday. The others still are waiting for Culverhouse's decision.

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