Sunday, September 22, 2013

Decade of Futility - Did Bill Parcells Retire, Or Did Jerry Jones Force Him Out?

 Though tempered by the passing years, there is still a prominent negative attitude by many Cowboy fans (and football fans in general) toward Bill Parcells’ body of work during his four year stay in Dallas. After appearing in a combined three Super Bowls with the Giants and Patriots, and an AFC Championship Game in 1998 while the head coach of the New York Jets, the 34-32 mark that he now has strapped to his back from those days with the silver and blue are a burden that some said would keep him out of Canton.
So how is Parcells dealt with in Decade of Futility?
Good question.
Though cast in both lights at different junctures, Parcells is ultimately portrayed in a positive light.
Better question.
For me, it is hard to think of Parcells as the Dallas Cowboys head coach without thinking of his assistant coach Sean Payton too. Without Payton, it’s safe to say that Tony Romo would have likely joined Mike Shanahan in Denver instead of banking on the ineffectiveness of Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, and Clint Stoerner to make a way for him with the Cowboys way back in 2003.
Only Payton would have the gumption to leave a glorious franchise that had all but guaranteed him the head coaching position on the day that Parcells should finally call it quits, and then go east to a city demoralized by Hurricane Katrina to try and pull a perennial pigskin stinker out of the Gulf of Mexico.
Only Payton had the knowledge and expertise necessary to expose the Cowboys’ 2006 defense for what it was - specifically, a good unit that lacked speed and gumption at the linebacker level – and to make wonder-boy Tony Romo look like a practice squad quarterback. Payton’s New Orleans Saints whipped the ’Boys in Irving on a Sunday night by a 42-17 score, giving the world an up-close view at how to attack Parcells’ bunch.


 Thanks to Payton, the Cowboys finished the 2006 season with four losses in five games, including a horrible 39-31 defeat at the hands of a 2-13 Lions team in Week 17.
An exchange between Payton and Parcells comes to mind often when pondering this topic. It was when Payton was preparing to make official his decision to become the Saints’ head coach, and Parcells brought him into his office to have a final word. Instead of reminiscing or giving way to a long, emotional speech about comraderie, Parcells got right to the point. Said Parcells, “You’ve got to find out what’s been keeping that team from winning. You’ve got to find it out, and fix it right away. Or else you’ll be looking for another job in three years.”
For Parcells in Dallas, that was a dual-pronged problem. He not only needed to cure the disease in the locker room, but needed to change the instinctive philosophy of the owner and general manager as well.
History tells us that Parcells was able to turn the locker room inside out and produce a team that could play with the big boys of the NFL, but was as helpless as the mortals before him that came up against the iron will of Jerry Jones.
If someone were to ask me what my personal favorite chapter of Decade of Futility is, I would have to say that it is chapter 16. Dubbed “The Agenda,” this chapter deals specifically with the divorce of Jerry & Bill in a completely unique fashion.
How exactly these two notoriously head-strong individuals parted company has been a mystery for more than six years now, for the sole reason that neither party concerned wants to talk about it. Lured by this silence, I spent more than two years researching just this one chapter, probing into every possible corner for any crumb of evidence I could get my hands on.
The crumb that I finally alighted upon was anything but expected, but when I tested it, it answered every question I could throw at it.
With a lack of prominent facts to grab hold of, an interested public often starts from a hypothetical viewpoint to try and come up with the correct answer to this problem. In Decade of Futility I do the exact opposite, focusing, instead, on the state of Valley Ranch at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
Now, I willingly admit that my ultimate conclusion of the matter is merely a theory, rather than a hard-boiled verified fact. Such is the way when many of the facts available are shadows.
If there is one chapter I think absolutely should be read in this book, it is this one. Not only is it informative, but it will change the way you view Bill Parcells forever.


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