The New York Jets kept it all in the family today, naming longtime Bill Parcells assistant Al Groh as their new head coach, with Parcells staying on as a consultant.
Not long after the team announced the hiring, Bill Belichick, originally designated Parcells's successor, filed an antitrust suit against the NFL in a Newark federal court. Belichick, angry that the league won't allow him to negotiate with teams other than the Jets, asked for a temporary restraining order against the league that would prohibit the NFL from stopping negotiations between Belichick and other teams.
U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.
"The league's directive requiring all clubs to stop dealing with coach Belichick is a classic group boycott," said Belichick's lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, who also has represented NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer players in antitrust cases.
NFL spokesman Joe Browne declined to comment.
Groh, formerly the team's linebackers coach, signed a four-year contract at $800,000 a year and was given authority over all personnel decisions on the recommendation of Parcells, who said, "I have a strong belief that a coach must be allowed to shape and form his team the way he wants to."
Parcells resigned as head coach on Jan. 2, and, despite efforts by new owner Robert Wood Johnson IV to talk him out of retirement, he insisted today "my return to the sidelines was never really an option."
After Belichick spurned the job on Jan. 4, there was considerable speculation that Parcells would change his mind and make one last run at the fourth Super Bowl of his coaching career, two with the New York Giants and one with the New England Patriots.
Belichick remains a candidate for head coach of the Patriots. Last week, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled that Belichick had a valid contract with the Jets and teams could not negotiate with him unless the Jets approved.
When Johnson acquired the team from the estate of late owner Leon Hess two weeks ago, he tried to persuade Parcells to coach again. Parcells said he made inquiries about other potential head coaches around the league, but was convinced that Groh was right for the job.
"I think we have a good man . . . a guy I have tremendous confidence in," Parcells said. "He's smart, tough and has the ability to stay focused."
Parcells said Groh would have hiring and firing authority for his staff and support personnel and that he also would be in charge of acquiring personnel via free agency and the college draft.
Groh said he was as surprised as anyone when Belichick decided not to take the job that had been guaranteed contractually to him whenever Parcells decided to step down. He said he could sense the organization was leaning in his direction not long after that, but was not certain until he had lunch with Johnson this past Friday. "When he got up and said congratulations, I felt good about that," Groh said.
The Jets and Patriots reportedly have been talking about a possible compensation package that would send draft choices to New York for Belichick. But the Patriots also have asked permission to interview Dom Capers, the former Carolina head coach who was defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. Capers also has been mentioned as a possibility to fill the head coaching vacancy in New Orleans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.