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COWBOYS KEEP HEAD JOB IN THE 'FAMILY' WITH CAMPO

Dave Campo was hired Wednesday as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, putting a low-profile guy into one of the highest-profile jobs in pro sports.

Campo, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator since 1995, has been with the team since Jerry Jones bought it in 1989. Campo is among the group of assistant coaches Jimmy Johnson brought with him from the University of Miami.

"I feel like I'm family in this organization," Campo said.

The New London, Conn., native is only the fifth coach the Cowboys have ever had and, like the other four, he's a first-time NFL head coach. His predecessor, Chan Gailey, is the only one who didn't win a Super Bowl.

Dallas hasn't been a contender for championships lately. The Cowboys have won only one playoff game since the last title in 1995 and they're 24-24 in the past three seasons with two first-round playoff losses.

Dallas was 8-8 last year, mainly because of problems on offense. Campo's unit allowed just 13 points in four of the losses, which is why he believes a quick turnaround is possible.

"I could quote a lot of statistics here, but let me give you just one: The Tennessee Titans were 8-8 last year and they're playing in the Super Bowl," he said.

Campo, 52, was given a five-year contract worth $800,000 to $1 million per season. That's the same length as Gailey's deal, but for more money.

Gailey also was the offensive coordinator, but Jones said Campo won't wear two hats. New offensive and defensive coordinators could be hired as soon as today.

Jones' 15-day search for a coach hardly extended outside team headquarters, but he described it Wednesday as "a thorough, thorough decision on my part."

Campo's long relationship with Jones should come in handy considering the authority the owner-general manager wields.

"Jerry and I have the same philosophy and that's to win the Super Bowl," he said. "We've been together and we know how we each think. I think that makes it a little easier."

Pats hire Belichick, give up No. 1

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots will hire Bill Belichick as head coach, the team's Web site said today.

Although the team had not made an announcement, a spokeswoman confirmed the team owns the site, Patriots.com, which said it "has learned that Bill Belichick will be named the new head coach of the New England Patriots as early as this afternoon."

In exchange for letting Belichick out of his contract, the Jets will get New England's No. 1 draft pick this year, a fourth-rounder in 2001 and seventh-rounder in 2002, sources close to the negotiations told the Associated Press on the condition they not be identified. The Jets will give the Patriots a No. 5 in 2001 and a No. 7 in 2002, they said. The Patriots received permission to talk to Belichick on Wednesday.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers director of operations Tom Donahoe interviewed for the general manager's job on Tuesday.

Thomas' status improving

MIAMI -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, paralyzed from the chest down following a car crash, might be moved out of intensive care today.

Thomas could be transferred to a rehabilitation facility in about two weeks. He already has begun working with therapists.

Thomas, 33, remained in serious but stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital following surgery to rebuild part of his spine, hospital spokeswoman Maria Rosa Gonzalez said.

Simeon Rice named to Pro Bowl

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Defensive end Simeon Rice, second in the NFL in sacks this season, was added to the NFC roster for the Feb. 6 Pro Bowl.

Rice was added as a "need" player by NFC coach Tony Dungy of Tampa Bay.

The need player is selected by the conference coach among first alternates at either defensive end, inside linebacker or outside linebacker.

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