Posted: Monday April 3, 2006 8:57AM; Updated: Tuesday April 4, 2006 1:47AM
Parcells will be 65 on opening day. This could well be his last year coaching. If he doesn't come back in 2007, it's conceivable that Jones could give him the kind of golden parachute -- somewhere in the range of $5 million -- that he could take into semi-retirement in, say, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the same kind of gold watch Jones gave former Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson when they got their ugly divorce 12 years ago. Parcells understands his role in this: Tame the wild Owens for at least one year and get the most out of him. In my mind, there's no doubt Parcells thinks he can do this. And it's likely Owens won't be that hard to deal with in his first year anyway.
I won't call this a match made in heaven. But I will call it the missing piece Dallas desperately needs to be a Super Bowl contender in 2006. Jones knows it and I think Parcells knows it. He might be irascible and surly when he gets around to meeting the press about Owens, but get this straight: He signed off on it.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Troy Aikman attended UCLA for three years in the mid-'80s before being drafted by the Cowboys with the first pick of the 1989 draft. Saturday night's game between the Bruins and LSU in Indianapolis was the first UCLA basketball game he had ever attended.
Quote of the Week
"I always talk to my wife, Pat, before I'm going to make any big decision, and when I said to her I was thinking of coaching again, she said, 'You're going to ruin your good name!' After my first year back, I said, 'Well, we're halfway there.''' -- Washington coach Joe Gibbs, recalling the rough sledding of his 6-10 return in 2004.
Stat of the Week
There were 853 false-start penalties in the league last year.
That's right: 853! More than three per game. False starting is an epidemic that must be stopped, and the NFL missed the chance to do so last week.
"Is there a more boring penalty in football?'' director of officiating Mike Pereira said to a roomful of reporters last week. "It's a delay of about a minute in a game every time it's called -- and for a penalty that creates no advantage to either team.''
I applaud Pereira's frustration. The mere act of flinching on offense now gets a flag thrown -- with the exception of the regular settling-in movement at the line of scrimmage.
Last week, teams had a chance to vote out false starts by receivers and running backs, outside the tackles. There were 165 false starts called on wideouts and running backs last year. These are your basic minor flinches by wideouts that have nothing to do with gaining an advantage. These are the kind of penalties that most people in the league think have multiplied in recent years because of stadium noise. That's three hours and five minutes of five yards getting walked off and Ed Hochuli flipping the switch on his mike and droning: "False start, offense, Number 84. Five-yard penalty. Repeat second down.''
Media people sat in a room and watched some of these silly flinches by wideouts, with flags flying. And the competition committee and the league couldn't get teams to agree that these were superfluous penalties that had no impact whatsoever on the play other than to penalize the offense five yards and add another minute to the game. It went down because at least eight coaches felt that any movement by the offense would be distracting to the defense and gain an edge, potentially, for the offense. Talk about picky. These false starts have to stop.
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
Afraid I can't top last week's colonoscopy note, which engendered quite a dung storm out there. Seems many of you think I went too far. I'll keep that in mind the next time I'd doing prep work for a colonoscopy on an airplane.
This week's travel note concerns health clubs in nice hotels. They are invariably way, way too small, most of them with poor equipment to suit the needs of the more fit-minded travelers of today. Take the health club at the Hyatt in Orlando, where the NFL owners, executives, coaches and families (and news media) stayed last week. Four elliptical trainers, three treadmills, ancient machines -- and too few of those -- all wedged into a space the size of a family room. "If you wanted an elliptical, you had to be down there at 5:15 to get one,'' one media peer sniffed. Hotels are busy finding all these nice amenities to lure groups and highbrow clients, but one of the simplest things they could do would be to install a decent health club. As I travel, I'm consistently disappointed in the size and condition of these little rooms. And in places where they're pretty good -- like the Westin Providence -- you're charged to use the joint.
On another note, commissioner candidate Roger "Mr. Elliptical'' Goodell is certainly a fit one. He's one of the people you had to beat to the elliptical every morning in Orlando.