Falcons Pick E. Thomas as Interim Coach

The Atlanta Falcons, in a bit of a surprise move, have picked Emmitt Thomas as their interim head coach, according to an NFL source.

The veteran NFL assistant was the team's defensive backs coach. It had been thought that the Falcons would go with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson or defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

The elevation of Thomas is to be announced later today.

He is to succeed Bobby Petrino, who resigned Tuesday, and coach the Falcons' final three games of the season.

Thomas, 64, is a former standout defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs who is a seniors committee nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. He has been a college and NFL assistant coach since 1979 without getting a previous head coaching chance.

He had stints as an NFL assistant with the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Falcons. He's been with the Falcons since 2002, working for previous head coaches Dan Reeves and Jim Mora as well as Petrino. Those who have worked to improve the diversity in the NFL's hiring practices often cited the lack of a head coaching opportunity for Thomas, who is African-American, as a previous injustice before the gains the league has made in that area in recent years.

By Mark Maske |  December 12, 2007; 11:29 AM ET  | Category:  Falcons
Previous: Falcons Said to be Annoyed About Petrino's Sudden Departure | Next: T. Glenn Takes Step Toward Possible Return for Cowboys

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wuddup mark? any reason we(i?) can't access the most recent webchat? i alway read 'em, and actually kinda look forward to participating when possible, but it won't load - just wanted to make you aware of it, if you care. thanks!!

Posted by: pack4life | December 12, 2007 2:02 PM

What are Emmitt Thomas's chances of going from interim head coach? Or do you see as bad of the season has had do they need to make time and do interviews and do a big slash name to get fans back to that stadium as seen on the monday night foot ball game?

Posted by: Greg | December 12, 2007 4:52 PM

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