The Oakland Raiders hired Lane Kiffin as their coach last night, making the 31-year-old Southern California offensive coordinator the NFL's youngest head coach.
Kiffin, the son of Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, earned the job with a strong interview yesterday after the Raiders failed to reach a deal last week with 32-year-old Steve Sarkisian, Kiffin's fellow assistant to Pete Carroll at USC.
Raiders senior personnel executive Michael Lombardi confirmed the hiring in an e-mail to the Associated Press. Kiffin will become the Raiders' 16th head coach and the youngest in franchise history.
The former Fresno State quarterback is younger than at least nine players who finished the season with Oakland during its NFL-worst 2-14 campaign. Coach Art Shell was fired after the season.
Steelers. Mike Tomlin, the former defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, became Pittsburgh's first African American head coach.
Tomlin accepted the job Sunday night, and the hiring was announced yesterday. He is expected to make about $2.5 million a season in a four-year deal.
The 34-year-old will be the Steelers' third coach in 39 years, following Chuck Noll (23 seasons) and Bill Cowher (15).
Steelers owner Dan Rooney strongly denied that the team had told assistant head coach Russ Grimm he would be Cowher's successor, then changed its mind and hired Tomlin.
An NFL coordinator for only one season, Tomlin acknowledged it was difficult not to be overwhelmed by the chance to coach "one of the storied franchises in sports."
"I'm still coming to grips with what that means," he said. "But I am what I am as a coach. I don't call myself a 34-year-old coach or an experienced coach; I'm a football coach."
Tomlin retained Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator.
Falcons. Michael Vick was cleared by police of any wrongdoing at a Miami airport, four days after Falcons general manager Rich McKay said the star quarterback had "let a lot of people down."
Vick's water bottle was seized by security at Miami International Airport on Wednesday. Police said it smelled of marijuana and had a hidden compartment that contained a "small amount of dark particulate."
Lab tests found no evidence of drugs, according to a memo by Deisy Rodriguez, an assistant state attorney in Florida.
Police will not file charges, and there will be no disciplinary measures from the NFL or the Falcons.
In other Falcons news, Atlanta hired Jerry Rosburg, formerly with Cleveland, as special-teams coordinator.
New head coach Bobby Petrino also added strength and conditioning coaches David Puloka and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, a former Widener star.
Bengals. Cincinnati cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the Bengals' top draft pick, was arrested early yesterday and charged with possession of marijuana, becoming the ninth Cincinnati player arrested in nine months.
Joseph was arrested on U.S. Route 42 in northern Kentucky, police said, near his home in Union, Ky. Authorities in Boone County said Joseph was the passenger in a vehicle driven by a woman who had a suspended license and was driving slowly and weaving.
A search of the car found a bag of marijuana in a backpack that Joseph had reached for. His first court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 5.
Colts. X-rays on Peyton Manning's injured right thumb showed only a bruise yesterday. He is expected to start against Chicago in the Super Bowl, Colts owner Jim Irsay told the Associated Press last night.
Manning hit his thumb on left tackle Tarik Glenn's helmet in the Colts' 38-34 victory over New England.