Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
I hope Bill Parcells doesn't go back to ESPN as a studio analyst. I say that from an entirely selfish viewpoint. I mean who's to begrudge a guy like Parcells, who has paid his dues for as long as he has, a chance to do what he enjoys? But I didn't enjoy it when he filled that role before he went to Dallas.
There he was, sitting at that semi-circular table, waiting for all the yelling and screaming and nonsense to subside, so he could calmly and analytically present his viewpoint, the only thing on that mish-mosh of a show that actually provided any enlightenment (except when Ron Jaworski did a little analysis). Parcells -- a ray of light in the midst of all that heat. It was uncomfortable to watch. A dedicated schoolmaster trapped in a forum with a bunch of unruly children.
I was happy for him when he packed it in with the network and went back to coaching. I think the next time he'll seriously be in the news will be when his name comes up for the Hall of Fame. It'll be interesting. The selectors are bitter about him. They could never figure out his style. Has he retired, unretired, or what? Is he toying with us, lying to the world, playing some kind of game that will get him enshrined, and then get back in the arena?
The questions have been asked in many ways, and one thing that's been constant about Parcells is that you never know. It has infuriated people who have been professionally involved with these decisions, or lack of same.
"One thing you have to remember about Bill," one of his assistants once told me, "is that when he says something, you can write it on the blackboard. Just make sure you have an eraser handy."
I first became acquainted with Parcells when he was the Giants' defensive coordinator and linebacker coach in 1982 (was that really 24 years ago?). One day he came over to me in the locker room and said, out of the clear blue, "I like what you're trying to do. I like the fact that you're trying to write technical football."
Wow, I thought greedily, a pipeline. A source into the inner workings of the Giants. At least there's one guy I can rely on for information.
Uh, no. It was a one-shot. Just a passing thought. I was kept at arms length, along with most of the other members of the press. But Bill had his own inner circle. "Parcells' guys," we used to call them, people he'd trust with more incisive information. He cultivated certain individuals, distrusted the media as a whole, but a conversation with Parcells, whether individually or in the press conference format, would always leave you with plenty of quotable material. He couldn't help it. He talked in quotes, even though, personally, he was a mass of contradictions.
I remember catching him on the fly as he was walking out of the locker room after his Giants had beaten the Bills in the 1991 Super Bowl. It was a triumph of conservative, basic football over the exotic run 'n shoot labeled the K-Gun (which, of course, could have been a reverse situation if ScottNorwood's field goal try had gone a few feet to the left).