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Thomas named interim head coach


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The first step in closing out the 2007 season after the abrupt resignation of Bobby Petrino as Falcons head coach took shape early Wednesday afternoon. Veteran coach and Hall of Fame candidate Emmitt Thomas will lead Atlanta through its final three regular season games, the team announced.

Thomas, 64, has coached both sides of the ball during stops with six NFL teams.

A 28-year NFL coaching veteran, Thomas is serving in his sixth season on the Falcons coaching staff. He was named Atlanta s secondary coach in his first year with the Falcons (2002) and served as the senior defensive assistant and secondary coach for the Falcons from 2004-2006. Thomas has had three stints as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. His first came with the Philadelphia Eagles (1995-98) followed by the Green Bay Packers in 1999 and Minnesota from 2000-01.

"Emmitt has earned the respect of every player on our team," said Falcons Owner and CEO Arthur Blank. "Our players will work hard for Emmitt, with Hue Jackson calling plays on offense, Mike Zimmer continuing to coordinate the defense, and Jerry Rosburg coordinating on special teams."

Thomas is perhaps best known for his time as a player.

He played in 181 NFL games, including Super Bowls I and IV, and was selected to play in five Pro Bowls. Thomas owns two Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach (Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXII and XXVI) and one as a player (Kansas Chiefs IV). Thomas finished his career with 58 interceptions, including one in Super Bowl IV against Minnesota, which is the ninth-most ever in NFL history and he led the League in interceptions twice in a single-season. He is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame and his name is etched on the walls at Arrowhead Stadium. Thomas is a finalist of the Veterans' Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.

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