Dan Henning, who helped guide the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl title, was named coach of the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.
Elsewhere, the Buffalo Bills named their quarterback coach, Kay Stephenson, to replace Chuck Knox as head coach.
Henning, 40, an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator under Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, will replace Leeman Bennett, who was fired Jan. 14 by the Falcons.
At a news conference at the Falcons' training complex in Suwanee, Ga., Henning said he agreed to take the job during a meeting in Los Angeles Monday. Terms of his multiyear contract were not disclosed.
Eddie LeBaron, the Falcons' executive vice president, said Henning was the team's first choice among four candidates.
Henning said Atlanta was at the top of his list; Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams reportedly were also interested in him. He said he preferred Atlanta "because of the ownership, the management, the available player personnel, the particular facilities . . . the area of the country."
Henning said he has always wanted to be a head coach in the NFL.
"The dream . . . starts when you get into coaching," he said. "But in reality, about five or six years ago I took the logical steps to get from there to here."
Henning began his coaching career at Florida State in 1968 as quarterback and receivers coach, and also coached at Virginia Tech. He has been in the NFL eight years with the Houston Oilers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Redskins.
He was a quarterback with William and Mary from 1960 to 1963 and played with the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental League and the San Diego Chargers.
LeBaron also had interviewed John Mackovic, Dallas Cowboys' quarterback coach; Joe Walton, New York Jets' offensive coordinator, and Lindy Infante, Cincinnati receivers and quarterback coach.
Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard said that Henning "will be tough to replace. He's a heck of a coach."
It's possible that Henning will talk to some Redskins assistants about moving to the Falcons, with perhaps Larry Peccatiello, the team's linebacker coach, moving to Atlanta as defensive coordinator. However, the Redskins undoubtedly will work hard to keep most of the members of their staff.
In Buffalo, Stephenson, 38, became the top candidate after Defensive Coordinator Tom Catlin, 51, told owner Ralph Wilson he did not want the job.
"I asked Stephenson what his offensive style was," Wilson said at a Rich Stadium news conference, "and he said, 'I do pass, Mr. Wilson, on first downs.' That was a big plus with me, a very big plus."
Stephenson said, "We're going to be a very sound team." The Bills have about 15 players who will become free agents and will be able to go elsewhere.
Knox, who had one year left on his six-year contract with the Bills, resigned last week to become coach at Seattle.
Stephenson, who played college ball at Florida State and was signed as a free agent by San Diego, played quarterback for the Bills for three weeks in 1968 before suffering a fractured collarbone.
He worked for Atlanta and Oakland in 1969 and 1970 before landing his first coaching job at Rice in 1971.