Coach In Waiting
Bill Parcells isn't sure he wants to return to the game, but he's doing his homework
Sunday afternoon was still young as Bill Parcells sat in his living room in Sea Girt, N.J., four houses west of the Atlantic Ocean, with the whole world in his hands. For Parcells, on a day like this, the whole world is NFL Sunday Ticket and the remote that controls his 35-inch TV.
"Here's what bothers me," he said during the first quarter of the Jets-Bengals game, after Cincinnati tight end Kirk McMullen had caught a pass. "I knew [tight end] Marco Battaglia. I knew Tony McGee. But they're both gone. I don't know McMullen. I need to know him."
Parcells reached into a small bag bearing an NFL logo and pulled out a laminated 8�-by-11-inch card bearing the up-to-date roster of every AFC team. There was McMullen, a first-year man from Pitt. Parcells pulled out a lineup card from the previous day's Giants-Cardinals game, which he had attended, and noted that he had circled the name of Arizona fullback Dennis McKinley, a third-year player out of Mississippi State. He didn't know him either. "Drove me crazy," Parcells said. Also in the bag: an NFC roster card, a team-by-team breakdown of the number of players by position, and salary-cap data.
What's with all this material? Maybe, as Parcells says, it's part of the information he accumulates to prepare for his weekly one-hour national radio show and his once-a-month ESPN pregame TV gig. However, it seems remarkably detailed for six hours of media work per month. It does seem normal, though, for a man itching to get back into the fray It also raises the question: Will the 60-year-old Parcells, who turned three sub-.500 teams into Super Bowl winners or contenders in the span of 16 years, take one last fling at the NFL?
"I like football," he said. "Sometimes I miss one o'clock on Sundays. It was my life for a lot of years. But you can't do this forever, and guys like me aren't for everyone. I do feel like this is it for me. If I get through January, I'll be in the clear forever."
From the couch to her husband's left, Judy Parcells piped up, "In the clear?"
"I mean about being finished with coaching," he said.
The room went quiet, and all eyes turned to the TV and the end of the Patriots-Bills game. This was the game that Judy was most interested in, because daughter Dallas is married to New England director of player personnel Scott Pioli. A visitor kept bringing up coaching, and finally Bill turned to his wife. "Judy," he said, "should I coach?"
She thought for a few seconds. "Probably not," she said. "You know, he's a lot less stressed when he's not coaching."