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Mularkey submits resignation to Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Jan. 12, 2006) -- Mike Mularkey submitted his resignation to the Buffalo Bills, a person familiar with discussions between the coach and the team told The Associated Press.

The Bills will formally announce the coach's resignation during a press conference scheduled for Jan. 13 morning. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not been made.

ESPN.com, citing unidentified sources, first reported that Mularkey had reached a settlement with the team to cover the final three years of his contract. ESPN.com also reported that Mularkey's decision to leave the team was because of undisclosed family reasons.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, who completed his second season with Buffalo, is married and has two boys.

Reached by The Associated Press, Mularkey declined to comment on the report, except to say: "Right now is not the best time to talk."

He added that he was aware of the press conference being scheduled and preferred that the news come then.

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold declined comment.

Mularkey's departure is a major surprise after team owner Ralph Wilson announced last week that Mularkey would stay on as coach. Wilson went out of his way to back Mularkey, holding a second press conference on Jan. 4, hours after he announced the firing of team president and general manager Tom Donahoe.

A day later, Wilson replaced Donahoe by luring Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy out of retirement to take over as GM. Jan. 12 was Levy's first full day on the job.

Mularkey, however, was forced to dismiss five assistants, including offensive coordinator Tom Clements. He also faced the possibility of losing defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who has interviewed for several open head-coaching jobs.

Mularkey has a 14-18 record in two seasons with Buffalo.

He was partly faulted for Buffalo's 5-11 finish, as the team missed the playoffs for a sixth straight year to match its longest drought since the NFL merger.

The Bills failed to build off their 2004 season when they rallied from a 1-5 start to finish 9-7. They missed the playoffs, however, with a season-ending collapse, losing 29-24 to Pittsburgh, a team that fielded mostly reserves after having already secured a postseason berth.

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