Sports Outside the Beltway

Why 2006 Won’t Be Parcells’ Last Season

Brad Sham makes a pretty persuasive case that, speculation to the contrary, the 2006 run will not be Bill Parcells’ last with the Cowboys.

[T]he game is him and he is the game. Not just football, not just Sundays at the stadium, although that’s the essence of it. But the preparation, the teaching, the assembling talent. Parcells is reinvigorated by every Patrick McQuistan and Jay Ratliff he finds. The Jacob Rogerses and Stephen Petermans he can explain away to himself as part of the price of doing business.

Monday he talked about the delight for him in seeing a Jamaica Rector listen to his year-old advice, get stronger, and become a player worthy of making his team. There is the same joy for Parcells in the early success of Rector in 2006 as any of his Giants in 1986.

Listen to the way he reacted Wednesday to an innocent question about if he still gets the jitters over opening day: “They’ll be in place pretty strongly by the weekend. You know, I can’t really . . . and I’m not trying to be sentimental at all, but one of the great times in the NFL is opening Sunday, because everybody is kind of wondering what’s going to happen . . . One of the great times is about five minutes before they kick that ball off on Sunday. One of the great, for me, one of the great adrenaline rushes that there is. A lot of other things in my body go away, but that one stays the same.”

It says here Bill Parcells is nowhere near ready to give that up.

He is full of energy right now because it’s September. There have been no losses, no serious injuries. (No blowups with temperamental receivers?) But he has seen all of those. He knows they’re coming. He knows how to handle them.

He also knows the effect all of this takes on him. This is the part that is his curse. Parcells is insecure. If he obsesses over anything, it might be his eventual place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That place was probably set had he never come to Dallas, but he wasn’t sure. What he knows but can’t avoid is that if his team wins Super Bowl XLI, he still won’t be sure. Bet this: The day somewhere down the road he gets the call that he’s in Canton, if he’s still alive, he’ll go somewhere private and cry like a baby.

In the meantime, Bill Parcells does what he does. More to the point, he does what he is, much as he would like to be in more control of that. In training camp he could be heard talking about how much energy he had. Since the end of camp, he has said out loud how lucky he is to be doing something he loves so much at his age.

That’s why he talks about every experience being “more precious.” Every win, every loss, every practice. It’s getting closer to being over, and he knows it.

I think Sham’s right. Parcells is 65, which is not nearly as old as it used to be, and he’s had several breaks from the game. As grueling a business as it is, I think he’s got several more years left in him.

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