Jones got what he needed most from Bill Parcells
Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on May 10, 2006
A little Jaws music, please, to acknowledge the unmistakable resurfacing of Jerry Jones as the man in charge of socks, jocks and crocks for the organization that once proudly wore the label of America’s Team.
Make no mistake about it, Jethro has succeeded in reducing the once menacing Bill Parcells to a well- paid puppet king wondering how and when he lost his mojo. Or, as Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway noted Tuesday, “It’s hard to believe, but Jerry’s gelded Big Bill.”
Cowboy fans who haven’t guzzled the kool aid have to fear the odor wafting from Valley Ranch is not the scent of a brewing Super Bowl but the pollution of a polecat. No wonder Parcells stayed in his bunker so long after the season ended.
It is, of course, only a mild surprise that Jones is back into the meddling mode that drove Jimmy Johnson out of Dallas and kept the early ‘90s Cowboys from becoming the all-time NFL dynasty. Jethro is just being Jethro, much in the way T.O. will revert to being T.O. after a brief period of good behavior.
Parcells’ behavior, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to fathom. Not only has he bore little resemblance to a coach with Hall of Fame credentials, he’s become farther and farther removed from the my-way-or-the-highway, fire breathing dragon who used to be one of the game’s great intimidators.
Perhaps it’s all the bad decisions he’s made since arriving in Dallas, the 25-24 three-year record and the failure to end the Cowboys’ playoff victory drought. Perhaps the Parcells ego has been beaten down to the point where he privately believes he really can’t win without Bill Belichick at his side.
Whatever the reason, Parcells has subjugated himself to the point of spewing Jones’ party line. He’s now a team player, part of making decisions by committee, reduced to endorsing Jethro’s move to inject a cancerous growth named Terrell Owens into the Cowboys locker room.
Even worse than meekly going along with the Owens signing, Big Bill is making excuses and exceptions for the man who stomped on the star.
The T.O. situation in Philly was exaggerated, he suggested in a Friday press conference. Later he downplayed the fact T.O. wasn’t being held to the same standard as other players for mandatory off-season workouts.
Only last year, you might remember, Parcells was incensed over Larry Allen skipping the same workouts. Now along comes T.O., who unlike perennial Pro Bowler Allen has no blood, sweat and toil invested with Cowboy veterans, and he gets a hall pass from the head coach.
It sure seems a strange way to foster chemistry between the rank file and the maverick that’s been added to the mix.
“Big Bill was pitiful,” Galloway said of Parcells’ press conference performance. “He looked so weak I actually felt sorry for the man.”
Dale Hansen of WFAA TV in Dallas didn’t feel the least bit sorry. But he did a terrific job using file footage to make Parcells look like somebody whose credibility is eroding by the moment.
Hansen began by playing sound bites from when Parcells first came to town. From that initial press conference, he showed Big Bill asserting, “It’s not the status quo around here any more. It’s not going to be the same old way of doing business.”
Then tape was shown from a press conference two years ago where Parcells was being grilled about Jones saying he’d like to see more of Drew Henson at QB. Parcells looked into the camera and said, “Jerry Jones doesn’t make personnel decision around here, I do.”
“From there,” said Hansen, “we cut to the Friday press conference with Parcells talking about collective decisions and saying he’s just one small vote, he’s part of a committee. He said six times that he supports the organization’s decisions.
“Well, that’s not the way he was telling it three years ago, two years ago. So he’s either lying, or he’s completely changed his approach. My feeling is he was willing to sell his soul for the big raise Jerry gave him. I think he wants to win, but basically he’s on cruise control waiting for the ponies to take off at Saratoga.”
While Parcells turning into the company wimp is stunning, only the naive couldn’t have anticipated that Jones was merely biding his time before entering from stage left to reclaim his role as the Cowboys big kahuna.
It has long been the contention here that Jones’ primary purpose in hiring Parcells was not what it seemed. Oh, sure, he wanted him to win games, hopefully get the Cowboys to another Super Bowl. Above that, however, he needed the legitimacy Parcells brought in order to sell voters on building him a new stadium.
Give the man credit. Like Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting, he pulled off the big con. He slithered into the background to helped create the illusion he’d learned his lesson and wanted to run the Cowboys the right way. He told everyone Big Bill, a real football man, was now in charge.
Voters in Arlington bought the charade.
So now Jethro gets his new stadium, increased riches, the last laugh and renewed boldness in dealing with a defanged head coach. Before the stadium vote, he wouldn’t have dared thrust T.O. into Parcells’ grill. Now, he really doesn’t care what the Tuna thinks. And Big Bill knows it.
T.O., meanwhile, seems to have found the perfect owner. Turn up that Jaws music.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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