Bills hire Krumrie

1-10-03, 4:10 a.m. Updated:
1-10-03, 8:50 a.m.. Updated:
1-10-03, 4:20 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Defensive line coach Tim Krumrie, one of the most popular athletes ever in Cincinnati, is no longer a Bengal in what is perhaps the first sign that the new head coach is getting his say on the coaching staff.

Krumrie, who has spent all 20 of his NFL seasons with the Bengals, signed Friday in Buffalo after finishing his interview with Bills head coach Gregg Williams and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. He replaces the retiring John Levra for a defense looking to upgrade against the run after finishing 29th against the rush in the NFL this season.

Krumrie, 42, has been one of Bengals President Mike Brown's favorites down through the years. But he gave permission for Krumrie to talk to Buffalo even though he was under contract for the 2003 season.

"He was one of our great players and a fine coach," Brown said. "He always gives everything he has and we wish him well."

Part of any interview process for a head coaching candidate includes discussion about assistants, so Krumrie's departure could indicate the leading contenders have someone else in mind to coach the line. For instance, the Bills have also expressed an interest in offensive line coach Paul Alexander, an Upstate New York native from Rochester. But it's believed he also has a contract for '03 and it's not known if the Bengals have given permission to him to speak to other clubs.

Krumrie could end up reunited with former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau,

since the Bills are looking at LeBeau as anything from a consultant to assistant head coach. Krumrie has either played or coached for LeBeau for 14 seasons.

"We need toughness and intensity to make us a better team," said Bills President Tom Donahoe said. "He looks like we could suit him up."

Krumrie, who still works out three times a day in the offseason, never missed a game in a career spanning 1983 to 1994. His unit suffered injuries to starters Oliver Gibson and Vaughn Booker that took them out of most of the games last season after a year the line had 28 of a franchise-record 48 sacks and helped the Bengals allow the 10th-best yards per rush attempt in the league.

Krumrie became a folk hero as the nose tackle during the glory days when he went from a 10th-round pick in 1983 out of Wisconsin to a two-time Pro Bowler with intense sideline-to-sideline play that yielded five team tackling titles. Back in those days Brown once gave the legendary quote, "It wouldn't matter if you put Timmy out there with 10 nuns on his side. He'd still be playing just as hard, and be just as confident he was going to win."

He added to his legend when, at the peak of his game, he suffered a frightening broken leg in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIII that was thought to be virtually career-ending. But he returned to start the 1989 season opener.

After Krumrie seemingly rode off into the sunset following his 1994 retirement (after his last game he rode around Riverfront Stadium on the motorcycle the club gave him), he returned to become an assistant line coach in 1995 before becoming the line coach in 1996.

With Gibson tearing his Achilles' Nov. 10 in Baltimore and Booker looking at possible retirement, the Bengals are exploring the possibility of taking a defensive lineman with the first pick in the draft.

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