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Mora apologizes for comments about University of Washington job
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    ATLANTA — Jim Mora insisted Friday that he was trying to be funny when he said he would leave Atlanta to coach the University of Washington football team.
    Mora’s comments Thursday in an interview with Seattle radio station KJR received strong air play in Atlanta on Friday, a day before Mora’s Falcons play Dallas.
    Mora, an alumnus of Washington, said he has much respect for Washington coach Ty Willingham but said ‘‘if that job’s open, you’ll find me at the head of the line with my resume in hand ready to take that job.’’
    Mora, being interviewed by KJR’s Hugh Millen and Dave Mahler, was then asked, ‘‘If you’re available?’’
    Said Mora: ‘‘It doesn’t even matter if I’m available. ... I don’t care if we’re in the middle of a playoff run. I’m packing my stuff and coming back to Seattle.’’
    Mora issued a written statement early Friday attempting to clarify the comments. Later, the team called a news conference at owner Arthur Blank’s downtown offices. Mora told reporters his attempts at humor in the interview were not successful.
    ‘‘Clearly I made a mistake in the way I came across,’’ Mora said. ‘‘My intent was sarcasm and wit with an old buddy I roomed with in college, Hugh Millen.
    ‘‘I thought I was kidding but in listening to the replay it certainly didn’t sound like that. So I apologize. I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone in Atlanta here with the Falcons, Ty Willingham, or people in Seattle. It was just very poor judgment on my part and for that I apologize.’’
    Blank did not attend the news conference, but Mora had the appearance of a man who had been reprimanded by his boss.
    ‘‘I have talked with Arthur,’’ Mora said. ‘‘He’s disappointed in me and he should be. I’m more disappointed in myself than he ever could be with me. ... I opened my mouth and I let people down.
    ‘‘This is where I want to live. This is where I want to grow old, and boy what a horrible job I did of expressing that. A horrible job. You’d think I’d learn. You think you get enough shots at this, you’d figure it out. But I never cease to amaze myself at some of the things that come flying out of my mouth before I can get them back.’’
    Mora said he already has proved he wouldn’t leave the Falcons for a job at his alma mater.
    ‘‘When that job came open two years ago I got some calls from some alumni and I was here as the head coach and I told them immediately I have no interest in being anywhere but the Atlanta Falcons,’’ Mora said. ‘‘Please don’t even consider me. And then I endorsed Ty Willingham, who I think is an outstanding coach and has done an outstanding job there. He’s made me proud to be an (alumnus) again.’’
    The Falcons are 7-6 in Mora’s third season and under a mandate from Blank to improve on last season’s 8-8 finish. The Falcons advanced to the NFC championship game in Mora’s first year with the team, and Saturday night’s game is crucial to the Falcons’ hopes of returning to the playoffs.
    ‘‘I don’t think it’s a big distraction, no,’’ Mora said. ‘‘I think our players are locked and loaded. The players know how committed I am to them. I don’t think there’s any question how committed I am and how passionate I am about them and the Atlanta Falcons but clearly it was poor judgment and clearly I could have created a distraction and for that I have no excuses.’’