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The NFL
Peter King
December 24, 2001
Coach In Waiting Bill Parcells isn't sure he wants to return to the game, but he's doing his homework
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December 24, 2001

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But he's also restless. The jobs most likely to be open when the season ends are with Tampa Bay, San Diego and Carolina; Indianapolis and Atlanta are possible too. The Bucs, whose playoff hopes took a serious hit on Sunday with a 27-3 loss to the Bears, seem the best match for Parcells because he wouldn't want to coach for more than three years, and they have many of the pieces in place for a title run. Also, Tampa Bay seemed ready to make a strong run at Parcells after last season, before ownership gave coach Tony Dungy another chance. Parcells, however, wouldn't be baited into discussing specific teams, reminding a visitor that none has a vacancy now.

He did snipe at a Fox Sports Net report claiming he would seek a $7 million annual salary to run and coach a team. The highest annual general manager-coach salary is reportedly the $4 million earned by the Seahawks' Mike Holmgren. "That," Parcells said, "was a ludicrous report. When they can't attack your record, they say you're greedy."

It sounds as if Parcells is in midseason form already.

Setback in Seattle
Injury Spoils Watters's Return

The Seahawks' Ricky Watters is 32, old for a running back. He missed two months with a cracked right shoulder, suffered on Sept. 30 against Oakland. His contract is up at the end of the season, and he's headed to the free-agent market. Seattle's runner of the future, Shaun Alexander, averaged 119.3 yards in the eight games that Watters missed, so coach Mike Holmgren's announcement last week that Watters had regained his starting job was met with amazement by some around the league. Not by Watters, though.

"It's because of the way I came back—strong, in the best shape of my life—and because I never pouted," Watters said last week. "I was a team guy. And let's remember one thing: I'm no Joe Schmo. I'm still a very good NFL back. I'm serious when I say I feel faster and stronger than ever."

Alas, on the 28th carry of a 104-yard day against the Cowboys on Sunday, Watters broke his right ankle. Now the player who had made 116 consecutive starts before going down against the Raiders is out for the season.

Watters, 13th on the league's alltime rushing list, wasn't available for comment on Monday, but his new perspective should help him deal with his latest setback. He's no longer the kid who threw tantrums on the 49ers' sideline. His outlook has changed since his son, Tigero, died two weeks after his premature birth in October 1999. "This great game is not the most important thing in my life," said Watters, who has one son. "Being a father is. Being a husband is."

Inefficiency Central
Giants' Offense Stuck in Neutral

When the Giants played the Raiders on Nov. 25, offensive coordinator Sean Payton called "Sluggo Z Seam," a play that when executed correctly would have wideout Joe Jurevicius running through a seam down the middle. Jurevicius was open, Keny Collins threw and—boink!—the ball bounced off Jurevicius's chest A couple of series later the Raiders ran a similar play, and Tim Brown scored on a 46-yard touchdown. "We can't miss the three-foot putt, because we don't hit 300-yard drives," Payton said after the Giants escaped with a 17-13 win over the Cardinals last Saturday. "Unfortunately, we've missed too many of those easy ones."

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