TERRY FONTENOT Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints via AP

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday named Terry Fontenot the team’s first Black general manager, finding new leadership from within their division.

The 40-year-old Fontenot spent 18 seasons with NFC South rival New Orleans.

Fontenot helped build a consistent winner as the Saints’ vice president and assistant general manager in charge of pro personnel. The Falcons fired general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn following a 0-5 start this season, which led to a 4-12 finish, Atlanta’s third consecutive losing season.

The Falcons signed Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as their head coach on Saturday, a day after agreeing to terms.

Atlanta held a virtual interview with Fontenot on Jan. 6 but could not meet with him in person while New Orleans was in the playoffs. The Saints were eliminated in Sunday’s 30-20 loss to Tampa Bay, clearing the way for Atlanta to hire Fontenot.

Fontenot was hired by New Orleans as a a marketing intern. He moved to the scouting department and worked his way up from intern to pro scout before he was named assistant GM.


“When we started this process, we were focused on finding someone that not only has a track record of identifying key building blocks that result in successful teams, but also someone who focuses on cohesive relationships within the building,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “We feel very strongly that we’ve found that individual in Terry Fontenot.”

Blank said Fontenot “has shown the ability to make strong decisions and judgements that result in championship-caliber teams, while also understanding a variety of viewpoints and respecting a collaborative process throughout.”

Falcons President Rich McKay filled in for Dimitroff and helped coordinate the search for his replacement.

OFFICIALS: Sarah Thomas will cap her sixth NFL season by becoming the first female to officiate the Super Bowl in NFL history.

Thomas, a down judge, is part of the officiating crew announced Tuesday by the NFL.

“Sarah Thomas has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., the NFL’s executive vice resident of football operations. “Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor.”


Referee Carl Cheffers will lead the seven-person crew of on-field game officials for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Cheffers has been a game official for 21 seasons in the NFL and was promoted to referee in 2008. He has worked 17 playoff games, including the Super Bowl in 2017.

The crew includes umpire Fred Bryan, line judge Rusty Baynes, field judge James Coleman, side judge Eugene Hall, back judge Dino Paganelli and replay official Mike Wimmer. The crew has 88 years of NFL experience with 77 combined playoff games.

This will be the first Super Bowl for Coleman as well as Thomas and second for Cheffers, Bryan, Baynes, Hall and Paganelli.

BILLS: The likelihood of Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll staying in Buffalo for at least one more season has increased after he was passed over for the Los Angeles Chargers’ coaching job, two people with direct knowledge of Daboll’s plans told The Associated Press.

The people spoke to The AP over the past two days on the condition of anonymity because Daboll declined to discuss his future during his weekly video conference call on Monday.

One person said Daboll isn’t expected to consider the NFL’s remaining vacancies, in Detroit, Philadelphia and Houston, and will now place his sole focus on preparing the Bills to face Kansas City in the AFC championship game on Sunday.


The second person said Daboll has no interviews scheduled for the coaching openings. The person said that while it’s more likely Daboll will return for a fourth season in Buffalo, nothing is certain so long as head coaching jobs remain open this offseason.

RAVENS: Three-time Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram was by the Baltimore Ravens, who used the 10-year veteran as a starter for the first seven games this season before dropping him deep on the depth chart.

The 31-year-old Ingram was on the inactive list for four of Baltimore’s last five games, including playoff matchups against Tennessee and Buffalo. He finished with 299 yards on a career-low 72 carries and two touchdowns.

By the time Ingram sprained an ankle in a 30-28 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 18, the Ravens had already been providing most of the carries to Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins. Ingram returned on Nov. 15 and received only 22 carries the rest of the way.

Ingram’s release was announced Tuesday, one day after he foreshadowed the move on Twitter.

Ingram was signed by Baltimore as a free agent in March 2019 after playing eight years with the New Orleans Saints. He immediately assumed the role as a leader in the locker room and showed his worth on the field by running for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns. In addition, Ingram caught 26 passes for 247 yards and five TDs.

LIONS: The Detroit Lions haven’t even officially announced the hiring of Dan Campbell as the franchise’s next head coach, but the NFL Network reported he will be bringing New Orleans Saints defensive-backs coach Aaron Glenn with him to serve as defensive coordinator.

A former All-Pro cornerback, Glenn played 15 seasons in the NFL. Since retiring, he tried his hand at scouting before moving into coaching, spending the past five seasons leading the Saints’ defensive backs.

Campbell and Glenn played at Texas A&M, although their times at the program didn’t overlap. And both joined the Saints’ staff in 2016.

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