Texans make Capers first coach in franchise history

Capers to finally unite with Casserly

Dom Capers almost got hooked up with Houston Texans general manager Charley Casserly last year when Casserly was being considered for the same job with the New Orleans Saints. A year later, Casserly got his man, hiring Capers to be the Texans' first head coach.

In fact, sources said Casserly sent word to Capers last year "to start putting a staff together" just in case he ended up in New Orleans. But Casserly took the Houston job, and Randy Mueller was named the Saints GM.

Casserly has always wanted a man with head-coaching experience. He is not big into risks, so hiring an unproven coordinator didn't inspire him after his apparent lukewarm experience in Washington with Norv Turner.

Capers is a coach who has experienced expansion birth. He was the first coach of the Carolina Panthers, and his downfall came when GM Bill Polian left for Indianapolis. Capers also has had an inside look at how the Jacksonville Jaguars have operated the past two years as defensive coordinator.

Capers accelerated the Texans' hiring schedule with a terrific interview that impressed owner Bob McNair. When Capers became a head coach candidate for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, McNair told Casserly to close the deal, instead of waiting another year.

One of the key contract issues was Capers' pay for 2001, when he's not coaching. Miami coach Butch Davis balked at a proposal that called for a reduced salary in the first year; that shouldn't be a problem with Capers, who is still making more than $1 million annually on his Carolina contract.

The good news for Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is that he will get Capers off his books starting in 2002 because the coach's salary is expected to exceed what he is owed.



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