Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big Tuna Swims With The Dolphins

ESPN's football IQ plummeted earlier this week when it was reported that Bill Parcells would be leaving his position as an NFL analyst and taking a job as the Miami Dolphins' vice president of football operations.

Parcells has run this route before, retiring from football and sitting behind a desk at ESPN for a season before being wooed back into the game by a team desperate for a dose of his football acumen.

If it's not the Detroit Lions...and it never is...I whine a bit selfishly that I won't get to listen to his genius-speak on my favorite sports network. Although during his most recent coaching stint in Dallas, he was on TV often enough, both in games and interviews, that the symptoms of withdrawal never surfaced.

Now he's moving into the front office in Miami, and says without pause that he will not name himself the head coach.

Although, take from that what you will. The day before he signed his deal with the Dolphins, he was a dotted i and a crossed t away from being introduced as the Atlanta Falcons' veep. And in the time it takes to run a contract through the shredder, that deal was dead and he was packing for Miami instead of Atlanta.

For now, I take Parcells at his word that his days of stalking the sideline wearing a headset are over. He's 66, and many of his critics are quick to point out that his best coaching is behind him, and that he can't reach today's player with his dictatorial demeanor.

"Bull!" I say. But then I might be a tad biased.

Speaking of biased, one of the most entertaining sidebars to this whole drama involves Dan Le Batard, a nationally recognized sports columnist for the Miami Herald.

Le Batard wrote a column immediately after the hire, casting Parcells in the most negative light, calling him names and arguing that he gets so much more credit for being a football guru than he deserves.

His hatred of Parcells boiled over during an appearance on Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio, when Le Batard said he despises Parcells so much that he's one of the sports figures on Le Batard's short list that he'd like to meet in the ring for a mixed martial arts bout.

I take quite the opposite stance when it comes to the Big Tuna. I'd much rather buy him a beer than put him in a submission choke hold.

In listening to callers' commentary and reading their reactions on forums and blogs, it's clear that a lot of people don’t like Parcells. It's also clear that a lot of people do.

I've fallen into the latter category ever since I knew who Bill Parcells was. The only name higher on my list of favorite professional football figures is Barry Sanders.

And now Parcells is back, to try his hand at rebuilding his fifth NFL franchise. Let's face Miami, there's nowhere to go but up. Just how far up, however, will become evident over the next few seasons.

I don't expect to see Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl banners anytime soon in southern Florida. But one thing will be clear:

Bill Parcells will be calling all the shots.

"My entire life has been spent thinking
about this game. That's pretty narrow...I don't
view myself as a person who's well-versed in
very many subjects. I'm not proud of that."
—Bill Parcells

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