donderdag, januari 02, 2003

The Fat Man Goes To Texas
"If you ain't happy one place, chances are, you won't be happy any place."--Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks

Well, it's official. About as "official" as any Bill Parcells contract can ever be anyway. The Fat Man is back. ESPN reports that he has agreed to a four-year contract worth $17.1 million to coach the Dallas Cowboys. For those of you as short on memory as The Tuna, not so long ago when he quit the Jets, Parcells said, "I've coached my last football game." Last year, at it again when he backed out of the Tampa Bay job, he said, "I'm finished coaching. There aren't going to be any more rumors about me returning to coaching. This is it. It's over."

Lest you think Bill Parcells is just a consummate quitter or your average, self-indulgent piglet of a man in desperate need of a girdle, one who wouldn't know the truth if it was able to get its jaws around his elephantine ass and bite him, you should know that this isn't about coaching the Cowboys, or the truth, or Parcells' legendary inability to escape the mad clutches of coaching football. This is about the schadenfreude of watching the Bill Parcells living legend dissolve faster than enzymes can breakdown fat molecules. Being a life-long Cowboys-Hater, the signing of Bill Parcells gives me great pleasure. The pleasure of the misfortune of others.

There is a long line of Parcells amorists soiling themselves for the chance to sing hosannas in the name of what a great coach Parcells has been and how his signing with the Cowboys means the NFL's "other" consumate jackass, Jerry Jones, will soon be collecting Vince Lombardi Trophies faster than a speeding photon.

We all know the legend "wins" wherever he goes. What a man, what a history. But let's look at this a little closer. The first team he coached, the New York Giants, won two Super Bowls with him before he then left them in chaos, walking away from them in May, too late for them to hire a competent successor.

The next team he coached, the New England Patriots, he took to the Super Bowl. Of course, he didn't win the Super Bowl with New England primarily because by the time he got them there he was already planning on jumping ship, but he did manage to leave them in chaos also, bolting from them to the New York Jets in violation of his contract.

With New York Jets he made it only as far as the AFC Championship game. No Super Bowl. When Vinny Testaverde went down to injury in the first half of the first game of what was supposed to be "the" season for the Jets, Parcells, to his credit, managed to last the whole season before quitting on them too. Oh, and like he did with his previous two employers, he managed to leave the Jets in chaos as well, a perfect three for three record. How about that? Three franchises, three variations of chaos.

The problem with the Parcells success story is not just that it breeds this malignant chaos in his wake but that with each team, Parcells has had less and less success and has stayed a shorter and shorter period of time. If we were to chart the Parcells success story from beginning to end, we might expect that the best the Cowboys could hope for from Parcells, at his current rate of diminishing returns, would be about one and a quarter seasons of coaching and maybe a wild card spot in the playoffs. And, of course, the requisite amount of chaos in his wake.

I love the hiring. Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells is a marriage made in hell, a marriage that has about as much of a future as the infamous Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra marriage. Jones has had the final say on all personnel decisions since the last self-worshipping Cowboy coach, Jimmy Johnson, left after the 1993 season. Jones' desire to make the Cowboys winners again is the reason he is accommodating Parcells' wish for most of the control, essentially altering the way Jones has run the organization since he bought the team in 1989. If you want to read the fine print on humor, examine the "agreement" between Jones and Parcells:

Jones will remain the general manager, but Parcells will have final say on the 53-man roster, will be able to hire and fire his own coaches and will have a strong hand in scouting. But here comes the trouble. If Jerry Jones is the general manager but Parcells is doing all the work of a general manager and has all the decision-making power of your standard general manager, who then is the de facto general manager? So far, no one knows despite official protests to the contrary. According to a source, Parcells wouldn't have agreed to the deal if his demands for control weren't met, and he would not have returned to the NFL for any job other than to coach the Cowboys. The source said Parcells is keen on trying to rebuild one of the most storied franchises in sports.

This isn't about whether or not Parcells can turn around or rebuild the Cowboys franchise. The Cowboys finished in last place winning only 5 games out of 16 including a season-opening loss to an expansion team and a season ending loss to their most bitter rivals. They ranked 30th out of 32 teams in total offense, 31st out of 32nd in passing, and ranked ahead of only the expansion Houston Texans in points scored. If they were any worse, they'd be playing in the Arena Football League. A monkey with a crack pipe in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other could rebuild this franchise. So there aren't many places to go for Parcells and the Cowboys than "up".

The "real" issue is the pleasure of the ongoing soap opera that will run as Parcells and Jones argue with each other in the press like sardonic schoolgirls over who controls what and who can stand where and who is "really" running the show. Jones has already shown he can't stand it when someone besides himself gets a sliver of the spotlight and the primary question one should ask is only who will combust first and how big will the explosion be.

In the meantime, the NFL East just got alot more interesting. First of all, Jones' ego and coaching hire is not unprecedented, not even within his own division. How many of his own juices do you think The Danny is stewing in now that he's been upstaged not just as a control-freak owner, but a control-freak owner who hired an alleged genius as coach? This clash of the egos rivalry just heated up to the exploding microwave point.

Then consider that Parcells will be up against his old Giants team, a twice-a-season spectacle of emotionally-charged disturbances certain to make even the dullest drubbings over the Cowboys an instant excitement incident. And the last rival is the Philadelphia Eagles, home of the man who will quite probably will be the NFL's Coach of the Year, Andy Reid, and the team which might possibly be defending an NFC Championship next season.

So while it's "still" official, or before one side or the other implodes, gets cold feet or simply walks away, my thanks to Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells in advance, for all the fatuous, puerile moments to come.

This year's Super Bowl? The Philadelphia Eagles against the Tennessee Titans.

Geen opmerkingen: