An unholy matrimony


There have been bad marriages and then there is this.

Bad, you ask? This is worse than Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett.

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley had a better chance than these two people.

Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones aren't uniting in holy matrimony, rather holy monetary. Yesterday, Parcells according to reports, received a four-year, $17.1 million dollar contract from Jones to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

At least at a wedding, they ask, "if anyone believes that these two should not be united, speak now or forever hold your peace."

But no sportswriter would ever object; they are simply going to sit back and wait for the fireworks to begin.

Because it is inevitable for there to be explosions. How can there not be? We are talking about two of the largest egos in sports.

Jones, the most visible owner in the NFL, is also the only owner in the NFL who also serves as the general manager. He has final say in all personnel decisions. He is on the sidelines of every game and relishes the total control he has on the team. He is the Dallas Cowboys, just ask him.

Parcells is one of the first head coaches to demand total control in all football decisions. Once when asked about his desire to make all personnel decisions, he famously stated, "if they want you to cook the meals, they have to be able to let you shop for the groceries."

Do you see where we're headed here?

Yesterday, both men played nice about the situation. There was a smiling Parcells, who looked about as comfortable as a man sitting in bed of rattlesnakes, calling it a "partnership" with Jones having final say in the personnel decisions.

There was Jones, with the perma-grin left by the worst face lift in history, saying he will be changing his philosophy a little and admitted to making a few mistakes in his personnel decisions.

A few? Let's see. There was the drafting of quarterback Quincy Carter in the first round two years ago. Carter was barely projected as a third round pick, but there was Jones drafting him with his first pick and proclaiming him to be the Cowboy's next franchise player.

Instead, Carter lost his job to a guy who hadn't touched a football in three years, which was another one of Jones's brighter moves. He signed Chad Hutchinson, who had never taken a snap of any kind in the NFL - not in a game, not in practice - to rather large contract. Hutchinson, who burned out pitching with St. Louis Cardinals because of inability to throw strikes, isn't throwing many more strikes as a Cowboy.

That is where the conflict lies. What would Parcells have done as the coach in this situation? Would he have stood up to Jones and said not to make these foolish moves? And even more intriguing, would Jones have made the personnel moves anyway?

The NFL draft just got a whole lot more interesting.

They say in marriage that the first six-months is the honeymoon period, everything is fresh, new and full of hope. But after that six months, the newness slowly wears off, eachothers pet peeves come out and the reality of marriage takes place. The same will be true in this marriage.

Where will the optimism be next season when Dallas loses three straight games? Because they will. The Cowboys are woefully undermanned. They have no quarterback, no offensive linemen to protect the quarterback and only a handful of playmakers on offense. Their defense is vastly improved and will be a strength, but even if they were to shut out a team, there is no guarantee the game wouldn't end in a 0-0 tie.

This is what Parcells inherits. In his last two jobs with New York Jets and New England Patriots, Parcells took over teams that had established players at the key positions like quarterback, running back and wide receiver and were on the verge of being good.

Dallas is barely on the verge of being average. Their quarterback is still throwing curve balls, Emmitt Smith barely got to touch the ball this season and their receivers don't seem to catch the few catchable balls that do get thrown their way.

The Parcells-Jones honeymoon will barely make it out of training camp. This is the year HBO should've followed the Cowboys through training camp. It would have made for great television. Here is what it would be like...

Jones: "Bill, I am thinking of signing a former shortstop to be our new tailback."

Parcells: "Get the hell off my field, Jerry. I'm trying to run a practice."

Jones: "Actually Bill, it's my field and I'm running the practice."

Parcells: "No, it's my field and I'm running things here."

Jones: "That's good Bill, keep telling yourself that. I'm going to go sign that shortstop, maybe I can find a catcher to play fullback."

But sometimes marriages that seemed doomed actually work, just look at the guy who got to marry Shania Twain. Maybe the unlikely Parcells-Jones marriage will work.

Parcells will bring a real toughness to the Cowboys. A toughness that past Cowboys players didn't have and just disguised with thuggery. He will bring discipline, a demand for perfection and return to fundamental football to a team that has been all flash and too much spent cash in the past few years.

If Jones was wise, he would limit his football role to signing checks and allowing Parcells to do his job.

If they can put aside their egos and work together, they could America's team back to prominence.

Hey, it could work. After all, everyone knows Michael and Lisa Marie would have worked out with a little more time.


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