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Sports briefs for Jan. 11, 2013

By From wire service reports

Piazza to deny PED use in upcoming book

When Mike Piazza’s autobiography “Long Shot” is released in February, the former major-league catcher will deny using performance-enhancing drugs during his career.

Suspicions of steroid use among several prominent players surrounded the Baseball Hall of Fame vote this week. Along with Piazza, players who fell short in their first year of eligibility were pitcher Roger Clemens and slugger Barry Bonds.

Piazza received 58 percent of the vote, which was below the required 75 percent for election.

The 12-time All-Star finished his career with 427 home runs and a .308 batting average in 16 seasons. Despite being a 62nd-round draft pick, Piazza went on to become one of the top hitting catchers of all time.

Wheeler also said Piazza in his book will discuss PED use in baseball.

Given the climate of controversy with the candidates this year, Piazza wasn’t disappointed about being left out of Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility, Wheeler said.

Browns hire Chudzinski as head coach

The Cleveland Browns hired Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to be the 14th head coach in franchise history.

The team made the announcement in a press release issued Thursday night, ending a search that included Oregon coach Chip Kelly and former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, among others.

Chudzinski, a Toledo, Ohio, native, spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. He served as offensive coordinator of the Browns in 2007-08 and had a previous stint with Cleveland in 2004 as tight ends coach. Chudzinski also was an assistant with the San Diego Chargers in 2005-06 and 2009-10.

A report early Thursday indicated Whisenhunt had emerged as a top candidate. Whisenhunt had a second interview with the Browns.

The Browns also interviewed Mike Zimmer, Bengals defensive coordinator, this week.

Niedermayer named Ducks assistant coach

The Anaheim Ducks named four-time Stanley Cup winner Scott Niedermayer as an assistant coach on Friday.

Coach Bruce Boudreau added Niedermayer, 39, to a staff that includes current assistants Bob Woods and Brad Lauer.

Niedermayer moves over to the coaching side after working as a consultant for hockey operations since he retired as a player in 2010.

Niedermayer will attend Ducks practices and work from a vantage point above the rink rather than on the bench during home games.

Falcons promote Vital to replace Caldwell

The Falcons promoted Lionel Vital to director of player personnel, replacing David Caldwell, who was hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ general manager.

“We are pleased to announce that we have promoted Lionel Vital to our director of player personnel,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Lionel has assisted in constructing our roster over the last five seasons and has been instrumental in our draft process and free agent acquisitions.”

Vital, a 23-year veteran in scouting and player personnel, served as the Falcons’ associate director of player personnel in 2012 following four years as the team’s assistant director of player personnel.

Ex-major leaguer Bradley faces domestic-abuse charges

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed domestic-abuse charges against former Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley on Friday.

Bradley, 34, could face up to 13 years in jail if he’s convicted on four counts of spousal battery, four counts of criminal threats, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of vandalism and one count of dissuading a witness from making a report. The charges stem from five incidents in which he threatened and attacked his wife.

He also could face up to $13,000 in fines and restitution. Bradley remains free while awaiting a Jan. 24 arraignment.

Bradley and his wife, Monique, are in the midst of a divorce.

Cowboys to name Kiffin as defensive coordinator

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t waste much time finding a new defensive coordinator to replace Rob Ryan.

Just three days after ousting Ryan, the Cowboys were set to hire Monte Kiffin for the position, ESPN.com reported Friday.

The 72-year-old Kiffin left his job as USC’s defensive coordinator in December to pursue a return to the NFL.

Kiffin has plenty of experience in the league. One of his stops during 26 years as an NFL assistant was at Tampa Bay, where he worked as defensive coordinator for 13 seasons.

In Kiffin’s stint with the Buccaneers, his units finished among the top 10 in ttoal defense and scoring defense 11 times. He was with the Bucs when they went to the Super Bowl in 2002.

Moving to the college ranks in 2009, Kiffin joined his son Lane’s staff at Tennessee and then followed him to USC when he took the Trojans’ job two years ago.

The Cowboys fired Ryan on Tuesday after his two seasons as defensive coordinator.

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