Waving goodbye

Josh McDaniels, fired in Denver on Monday, is the fourth disciple of New England coach Bill Belichick to get fired from his first head coaching job. Romeo Crennel with Cleveland, Eric Mangini with the Jets, and Charlie Weis with Notre Dame set the pace.

"I was disappointed to see that for Josh. Unfortunately, I know what it feels like," said Belichick, who also was fired from his first job, in Cleveland.

McDaniels was summoned to owner Pat Bowlen's office on Monday morning and, several hours later, drove off in his silver Range Rover with a honk and a wave.

He had reason to be cheerful - Bowlen still owes him $6.7 million over the next two years, on top of the $3.5 million he owes Mike Shanahan.

Close but no cigar

The Detroit Lions (2-10) have lost six games by five or fewer points this season. The 1993 New England Patriots and the 2001 Lions are the only teams since 1990 to lose more games by five or fewer points through their first 12 games, according to Stats L.L.C.

The secret weapon?

In the copycat world of the NFL, expect a run on hiring martial-arts experts.

Kansas City's Tamba Hali, whose sack output has risen from 8.5 in a full season last year to 10 so far this year, attributes the gain to Joe Kim, a Taekwondo instructor retained by the Chiefs to teach martial-arts moves the defenders can use to keep offensive hands off them as they try to rush.

"Joe's taught us a lot of techniques to beat any guy," Hali told SI.com's Peter King. "Martial arts can be a valuable tool to get off blocks."

Three rested losses

A lot of critics have scorned New York coach Rex Ryan for Monday night's 45-3 debacle in New England, noting that the Jets staff had 10 days to prepare after last playing on Thanksgiving.

So, of course, did Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

But the critics note that it's the third time this season - including the opener and the game after the bye-week break - the Jets (9-3) have lost after an extended break.

Thanks, Rex, I'm happy working on the railroad

And finally, we have this fascinating story about life on the fringes of the NFL. Keith Fitzhugh, a free-agent safety, turned down an offer to join the Jets in order to remain a conductor with the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

"I've got something now where I know every two weeks I'm getting a paycheck," Fitzhugh told the Associated Press. "That's what helps out the most right now. I don't knock the Jets at all. I highly appreciate them."

Fitzhugh's father, Keith Sr., is disabled and unable to work, while his mother, Meltonia, has been struggling to make ends meet in their Atlanta home.

"I was released three times. That's a lot," the 24-year-old safety said. "I just don't want to give up what I have now and say that I'm there for a couple of weeks and then I'm released again. Then, what am I going to do?

Contact staff writer Don McKee at dmckee@phillynews.com.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.