Special appearance by Bill Parcells
very good insite on the man.
Tuna on Jerry Jones, Emmitt Smith and Terry Glenn
PHOENIX -- It seems we are forever bidding Bill Parcells either hello or goodbye. His NFL head-coaching career now spans four teams and three decades. But no matter how many changes he has undergone or reincarnations he has managed, he remains always front and center, one of the few figures in the game of professional football today who could pass for larger than life.
Love him or loathe him, Parcells is rarely irrelevant. Even when he's not in the NFL, his presence always looms, and we have learned to pay attention when he talks. Whether we believe every word is another story entirely.
As strange as it first sounded, his recent hiring by the Dallas Cowboys is a pairing that now strikes us as destined to have happened. In some ways, the only surprise is that Parcells and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn't find each other sooner. Their publicity-creating partnership is certain to test that old adage about how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
Parcells' profile since he took over the Cowboys on Jan. 2 has been ridiculously low by his standards. That's why easily the most anticipated segment of this week's NFL annual meeting had nothing to do with the debate over expanding the playoffs, changing the overtime format or instant-replay challenges.
The event everyone was waiting for came Wednesday morning at 7:15, when the NFC coachesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ annual media breakfast kicked off at the Arizona Biltmore Resort with one Duane Charles Parcells in attendance. Known for his habitual avoidance of the league's annual meeting -- too many people, too much schmoozing -- Parcells had a standing-room-only crowd of reporters gathered around his table. Some arrived as early as 6:45 a.m. in order to elbow their way into position (Trust me on this one).
Washington's Steve Spurrier? That was so last year. This year's buzz was all about Parcells and him conducting just his third news conference since becoming the Cowboys' sixth head coach -- and first since Jan. 28. Parcells didn't disappoint, holding court for more than 50 minutes while answering questions that ranged as far as why he named one of his three daughters "Dallas" to the demise of Emmitt Smith's illustrious Cowboys career.
Here are the best-of-the-best excerpts from Wednesday's gabfest, in which Parcells, as usual, commanded center stage:
On what brings coaches like himself back to the NFL again and again:
"It's hard to explain. It's a very exciting game, and if you like competition -- in this league -- Sunday at 1 o'clock, that's where it is. It's a killer business. There isn't any doubt about that. I was looking at the coach's [group] photo yesterday, and there's only one guy that was in the first one I was in, and that's Dan Reeves.
"And I can recall the first picture that I was ever in -- and you'll get a kick out of this -- in 1983. Bud Grant was in the picture standing right behind me and as we were trying to get ready to take the picture, he said, 'This is like taking pictures of bomber pilots. When you come back next year, they'll be a few missing.' I've always remembered that."
On his noted preference for having just one voice speak for an organization -- his -- in light of the Cowboys' high-profile owner:
"I'm just going to coach the team. As you know I haven't been too vocal since I've been there. I've had one or two press conferences. So Jerry's going to speak and I'm going to do what's required of me [media-wise] from the standpoint of during the season, and that's the way it's going to be."
On whether having Jones comment on personnel issues bothers him:
"No, no. It doesn't bother me. I'm going to be fine with that. I think we're going to be philosophically compatible. I don't think there's any question. We've had many exchanges about things of that nature since I've been with the Cowboys. I think it's going to work out okay."
On whether that's an accommodation on his part:
"Absolutely. But I'm not the general manager. When I was the general manager of a team, then it's a little different. Then I'm responsible. But I'm not responsible. I'm in a little different position. And I quite frankly don't mind it."
On what brought him to the place where he doesn't mind that:
"Well, because I'm past all that stuff. You know? It's a different time for me and I think it's a different time for Jerry. I just want to do my best, and to coach this team and try and get it back to where he wants it and where I would like to have it. You know it is a marquee franchise. I know that."
On people waiting for his first blow-up with Jones:
"It's not going to happen. I mean I wouldn't foresee any of that. People waiting for it? You mean certain journalistic people? I told you I'm going to be a good partner. I'm going to work hard and give it my best shot. We both understand that this needs to work. I certainly understand it.
"We both want it work well. I'm going to make my very best effort to make it work. I promise you that. I promised him that. So we'll see how it goes. ... All I know is he's been great since I've been there. Are things a little different than I'm used to? Sure. I'm sure they're different for him too."
On whether he and Jones talk every day:
"Oh, yeah. There's been a couple times where he's been out of town. I kid him every once in a while when Stephen (Jones' son and a team executive) and he come in with their suits and ties on and their hankies in the suits. Then I know they're doing a little business away from Valley Ranch. I say, 'Uh-oh. We're not getting much done today.' But when they come in there with those open-collar shirts, I know we're working on football."
On whether he was in agreement that it was best for Smith to end his career elsewhere:
"It was difficult for me because I came in right at the tail end of it. They [Smith and Jones] had had this agreement to work this thing out. I sure didn't want to get in the middle of it. ... It really would have been fine with me either way, but certainly you have to look at the future of the franchise and at each position, and ask 'Is the player that's currently there what you're going to build with?' I think probably now is as good a time as any to try and move on."
On putting his stamp on the team, and banning dominoes in the locker room:
"I don't know anything about these dominoes. I really don't. They say 'He took the dominoes out.' I didn't know we had dominoes. I don't know what transpired [in the past]. I wasn't there. All I know is the way I like to do things."
On whether running back is a must need or a want:
"All I can tell you is I've been very fortunate in my career at the running back position. Some of the real great players I've had have had a trait that I'm spoiled about, and that is a tremendous stamina and ability to sustain performance. I had that with Joe Morris for a short period, with David Meggett in his own particular job he did, with Ottis Anderson and then with Curtis Martin.
"These guys are going to have to show me they've got that heart to be that guy. Right now, I don't know. Until you see him get smashed for a no-yard gain six times in a row and then still attack the same way they've always attacked, you don't know. Do I hope it's OK? Yeah, I do hope they're going to make it. But I really don't know. Troy Hambrick's going to get a good chance. That's what he's said he been wanting.
"Well, as they say in Texas, 'We're fixin' to find out.'"
On what he wants from receiver Terry Glenn:
"I'd like to have that same guy he was when he was a rookie [in New England with me in 1996]. That would certainly suffice. Again, I look at Terry Glenn pretty much the same way I looked at entering into the relationship with the Cowboys. I mean, this needs to work.
"And I had a great relationship with Terry his first year. People think it was adversarial. In no way was it ever adversarial. It was in jest that comment that was made. He knew it, I knew it and everybody on the team knew it. And I just like the player. I think he's a guy who can help our team. ... He's a threat now. If he gets it going and we have somebody get him the ball, he'll be a threat. He really will."
On how comfortable he is with his undersized defensive front:
"I'm going to have to see them play. I really don't know. I mean it's not what I'm used to. I'm going to have to see them play and then make my judgments when I see them. But it's certainly not what I'm used to. I'm used to a little bit bigger group. But the game's changed. It's more spread out. The style of middle linebacker in this league has obviously changed from what it was."
On whether he has had any regrets after taking the Dallas job:
"No. ... Hey, I know the window is closing for me. I wasn't really out there. I didn't expect this to happen. I didn't. It just hit me. I just thought this might be the right fit. ... I haven't regretted it at all."
On whether he's approaching this as if it's his career's final act:
"Well, I'm in the age-prohibitive category, I think. You know what I mean? Quite frankly, he doesn't know this, because I've never told him, but [Chiefs head coach Dick] Vermeil has been a little bit of an inspiration to me. ... [I was] sitting there looking at him, saying, 'You know, you might still be able to do this if you still want to.'"
On whether he regrets telling everyone "to write it on your chalkboard, I'm never coaching again" after the 1999 season with the Jets:
"No. That's the way I felt at the time. I'm not apologizing for it. That's the way I felt. I didn't think I was. As I said, this is a business that can wear me out. You know what kind of personality I am -- Type-A personality. I know that.
"But I'm past all that. This is a different enterprise now for me. I'm enthusiastic. I'm energized. I look forward to it. Will it beat me down again? Yes. The answer is yes, it will. But until it does, I'm giving it everything I've got."
On his four-year contract and how many years he thinks he has left as a coach:
"I don't know. I look forward to this very much. It's always been the same for me. You're afraid that it's not going to work. So that's what drives you. You're afraid you're going to fail. That's what drives a lot of us in this business. You do everything to keep that eventuality from happening. I'll do my best."
On the irony of coaching the Cowboys and having a daughter named Dallas:
"My college roommate's wife's name was Dallas. I just liked the name. My wife liked the name. So we just picked out that name. That's all it was. I never foresaw that this opportunity would come along, but hey, it did. That's the way life is, and that's the way this industry is now. So you just go."
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