But for the Bucs, Packers, Colts, Vikings and Rams, all of whom entered this week in deep conversations with a multitude of prospects, Parcells's decisions had a rippling effect. The most coveted individual was San Francisco 49er offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren, 43, who is esteemed for his innovative offensive mind and his rapport with players. As of Monday he had been or was scheduled to be interviewed by all five of those teams, plus the Steelers. "I never thought I was in competition with Bill," Holmgren says. "I haven't been a head coach in this league. But if a coach like Bill Parcells is out of the equation, then there's a few more of us who can enter the equation."
Other elements of the equation:
? Tampa Bay has turned into a pit stop for unemployed former head coaches Infante, Robinson, Ryan and Wyche. They've all been either interviewed or contacted, as have Holmgren and Buc defensive coordinator Floyd Peters.
? Green Bay's new depth chart is topped by Holmgren, followed by Knox.
? Indianapolis general manager Jim Irsay badly wants Holmgren to become quarterback Jeff George's mentor, but now he's in a real fight for Holmgren. Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ted Marchibroda is the only other serious candidate.
?While Los Angeles and Minnesota both have Holmgren on their short lists, they will probably settle on veteran guys—the Rams on Knox and the Vikings on Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger.
The Parcells Domino Effect may be felt even by his old team, the Giants, whose coach, Ray Handley, has vowed to remake the club in his own image. Will Handley retain the New York assistants who were thought to be ready to join Parcells in Tampa or Green Bay—Romeo Crennell, Ron Erhardt, Al Groh, Johnny Parker and Mike Sweatman—or will he handpick a new staff?
However the various scenarios play out, it is unlikely that another team will pull a surprise as big as the one in Cincinnati, where Brown is being bombarded with charges that the Bengal front office is too cheap and power-hungry to chase a coach with proven credentials. "It's bizarre," Buffalo assistant general manager Bob Ferguson says. " Shula's very smart and very sharp, and he might do a great job. But I thought it was very unfair to the coaches out there who've proven themselves and who've paid their dues."
Besides being criticized for his age, Shula has been rapped for supposedly having gotten the job because he was born with a silver coaching spoon in his mouth. Shula's father brought him onto the Dolphins' staff as receivers coach in 1982, when David was 23. But the word in Miami was that he couldn't win the respect of some of the wideouts and that later, as quarterback coach, he struggled to bond with Dan Marino.
In December 1985, Eagle owner Norman Braman was heavily criticized when word got out that he was preparing to offer his team's head job to the then 26-year-old Shula. Braman backed away and hired Ryan. By '88, Shula was Miami's assistant head coach. He struck out on his own when he went to Dallas as offensive coordinator in '89. However, he was demoted to Dallas's quarterback coach in '90, replacing Jerry Rhome at that position—a move that upset quarterback Troy Aikman, who liked Rhome. Shula was slated to be the Cowboys' passing game coordinator in '91, but he moved on to the Bengals' staff.