The Giants' road back to the Super Bowl gets bumpier
When New York Giants coach Bill Parcells told general manager George Young last week that he wanted to be an ex-coach, it was only the latest crisis in Young's 12-year reign atop one of pro football's flagship franchises. Until Tim Mara sold his 50% share of the Giants in March to Robert Tisch, Young had to continually referee the feud between Tim and the uncle Tim hates, Wellington, who owns the rest of the team. After coach Ray Perkins left New York in the lurch when he unexpectedly quit in 1982, Young had to whisk Parcells into the job. When Lawrence Taylor signed with Donald Trump's New Jersey Generals of the USFL in '84, Young had to pay a ransom to get Taylor back. Over the years Young has also had to deal with some tricky holdouts, most prominently those of Taylor, Carl Banks, Mark Bavaro and Mark Haynes, and with Taylor's four-game suspension for drug-policy violations in '88.
So Young was prepared when Parcells resigned with a year left on his contract. In fact, in anticipation of just this sort of development, he had had Ray Handley, a 46-year-old assistant coach, in mind to take over the Giants since last fall.
Last Friday Taylor cast Young as the villain in the Parcells story, criticizing Young for not trying to sign Parcells right after New York's victory in the Super Bowl. But in fairness, it was difficult for Young, a roundish fellow with two master's degrees who never seems as if he's having any fun, to proceed on Parcells's contract until the deal to sell Tim Mara's half of the team was done. Young didn't want to spend $6 million on a long-term contract for a coach without consulting the new owner first.
Young refuses to defend his handling of the Parcells negotiations, but he did hop off his home exercise bike over the weekend long enough to say: "If I'm perceived as the heavy in this, that's fine. I'm the black-hat guy. I have to have the thick skin. I'm in the damage-control business. My job is to make sure that no changes are disasters. None of us is irreplaceable, including myself."
Having lost a two-time Super Bowl-champion coach two months before the start of training camp, Young may face yet another crisis after the 1991 season. Each Giants assistant has a clause in his contract that says he can terminate that contract if Parcells is not the New York coach, and one assumes that if and when Parcells chooses to take a coaching job elsewhere in the NFL—Minnesota and Tampa Bay are being mentioned as possibilities—he would like to surround himself with familiar company. Young had no comment on why he consented to give the assistants this out, but he can take some comfort in the comments of one Giants assistant who said he didn't think more than two or three coaches would follow Parcells to another team.
Young just sighs at the mention of further defections. "What's new?" he asks. "We'll do what we've always done when problems come up: Stay the course."
Chariots of Ire
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your jeers