PALM BEACH, Fla. -- At the NFL meetings every year, there's a Monday night reception with a band (Adele seemed to be the flavor of the evening last night) and most of the coaches, owners, GMs, league people and media mixing it up. At this little soiree, I got one question about 18 times: "You think Bill Parcells would come back?''
I do, under the right circumstances.
I covered Parcells for four years as a Giants beat writer for Newsday in the '80s, and have known him well since then. I watched a spring training game with him in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday. And so I've spoken with him about the Saints situation at some length. And there may never have been circumstances more right than these for Parcells to get back on the sideline.
Five reasons why:
1. It's a 10-month job. Nine-, maybe, by the time Parcells would take over. Parcells, who will be 72 on opening day, insists on a one-year contract with ESPN because he doesn't want to be pinned down for longer than that.
2. It's with a legitimate Super Bowl contender. He's had Phil Simms and Drew Bledsoe, who were very good quarterbacks, but never a quarterback who's the complete package playing at this high a level as Drew Brees. It's a passing league. He knows he'd be able to basically cede control of the offense to Brees and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, sit back, and watch them put 30 points on the board most weeks.
3. He really likes Sean Payton. He'd be doing Payton a solid.
4. The money's good, or should be. Parcells owns horses and likes money.
5. It's fun. Maybe this should be No. 1. Parcells isn't one of those guys who got out of the game and said, "I'm sick of this stuff.'' He loves to throw out opinions on who's good and who isn't. On Monday, he sat with former Packers GM Ron Wolf, and Wolf is perfectly content in retirement -- doing other things like studying the baseball Cardinals roster (which Parcells does too) and discussing a recent educational trip to Cuba. Parcells has fun talking football. He was all abuzz about a trip to a coaching convention at Alabama last weekend. You could see how much he'd be into coaching one more time.
We'll see what happens. I don't think it will take long to decide. But the one immediate hangup would be this: If Payton decides to appeal the suspension to Goodell, he'd wait to hear the results before the Saints acted on Parcells. Because if the suspension is reduced so Payton would coach part of this season, he likely would turn to an interim coach on the staff instead of Parcells.
Now for your email:
WE HAVE AN EMAIL FROM ISRAEL. "Extending the trade deadline would be a terrible, terrible idea. Football is the only sport with a deadline which is early in the season, which means it's the only sport whose late season divisional races are not determined by whiny babies from lousy teams who are unhappy with their situations [and complained] their way into a one-sided trade. You think DeSean Jackson's complaining was annoying last year? Imagine if he knew he could still be traded late in the season! Look at other sports' deadline deals -- the big ones are usually brought about by some prima donna who knows how to take advantage of the situation. I desperately hope this does not pass. Otherwise sagas like the Dwight Howard & Carmelo Anthony situations will begin to plague the NFL.''-- From Barry, Jerusalem
Moving the deadline two weeks is hardly a sea change, Barry. The season is 17 weeks long, and making the deadline after Week 8 will be seven or eight games into the year. I wish the deadline were after 13 weeks. Then we'd see some real wheeling and dealing, with bad teams having the chance to steal a high draft pick to help them narrow the gap with the good teams.
SAM DISAGREES. "Love the column. Thanks for all your analysis and hard work. I have to call BS on your comparison of Spygate to Bountygate. You wrote that Bountygate is more severe because it "involves violations of the salary cap and tax code [and] involve[d] players being incentivized to knock foes out of the game." Violations of the salary cap and tax code? Please. If you've ever won your office NCAA Tourney pool, you violated the tax code by not reporting that money. And that's about the same amount of money by comparison these millionaires were throwing around. I think the bounty system used by players was more about camaraderie and motivation than actually hurting someone. How many opponents were actually carted off because of this system? Zero.
You also claimed that "[t]here are more people involved in this case... than in Spygate." How do you know? Goodell famously destroyed all the evidence and basically never shared any of the information with the public. While the Patriots lost a first-round pick, they had two first-round picks that year, so the penalty is not as severe as it may seem. Bottom line: while Bountygate encouraged excessive play on the field, it did NOT create an unfair competitive advantage for the Saints. They did NOT win games because of it. On the other hand, we will NEVER know the true impact of Spygate. The Patriots' cheating could have given them a Super Bowl trophy or two or three. I will always be mystified by how Spygate is continually minimized. In my opinion, Spygate is exponentially worse than Bountygate.''-- From Sam, Pittsburgh
How do you know there were no players carted off because of the bounties? Wasn't Brett Favre taken off the field (he returned, of course) after a high-low hit that looked very questionable? Wasn't Kurt Warner helped off the field in the playoff game before that? The Saints played 19 games that season. Are you sure no opposing offensive player was ever carted off the field?
Regarding the number of people involved. In the Saints case, we have a defensive coordinator, a head coach, a general manager, an assistant head coach, an owner (though not blamed, Tom Benson was aware) and, by the league's count, between 22 and 27 defensive players. That's between 27 and 32 people involved in or with some knowledge of a system paying players off the book or paying players to try to injure foes -- and that doesn't include the six other assistant coaches on defense who almost certainly were in the room for the defensive meetings at which the alleged schemes were hatched. So I'll say between 33 and 38 people had some knowledge of this.
You're saying you think more than 33 people were involved in the taping and interpretation of the signals taped by the Patriots. I don't think so. Spygate is not continually minimized. A team lost a first-round pick because of it, and $750,000. I do agree the Saints were excessively sanctioned in this case (Payton in particular), and I do believe you could rightfully argue Belichick should have been suspended. But we'll have to disagree on the Spygate versus bounties, and which was worse.
I STAND CORRECTED. "Do you think it would be wise of Sean Payton to sign up to do color on a football station? While he could add remarkable insight, I'm sure the Commissioner would take that activity into consideration if something else were to come up with Payton. The smart play, since he likely doesn't need to work for the rest of this life, is to take the year and do volunteer work, like helping groups that help persons with disabilities. That might show that he really understands what he risked by turning a blind eye to the bounty program. Anyway, I bet he could use a sabbatical, if only to get his priorities in perspective.''-- From Loren, Chicago
I said yesterday I thought he'd be a great hire and would be very good as a color guy. But he probably can't work games, and a network friend pointed it out to me last night. FOX does NFC games. What team would allow a 2013 NFC coach in the building to watch their tape and get angles on coaches and players and game plans from the coaches and players and game planners? He'd probably have to be in the studio if he took any job at all.
THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE EVIDENCE. "If Goodell and the NFL even "SUSPECTED" in 2009 that there was a bounty system in New Orleans, why did Goodell let it go on for two more seasons without doing something PROACTIVE for the league. If player safety was his main concern, why did the NFL put players at risk for two more seasons, without some proactive action of policy coming out of his office? Certainly protecting player safety does not have to wait for proof."-- From Glenn of Lafayette, La.
Yes it does. How can a commissioner fine or suspend a player for something the league can't prove? And two years ago, the rampant Saints denials meant the league, at the time, could not prove the bounty system existed.