Nastiest nuptials in sports history
By Jim Armstrong
Special to Page 2

Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones? They're kidding, right? You've got to be one of Nate Newton's regular customers to think this marriage will last.

Jerry Jones, Bill Parcells
Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells will be lucky to outlast J-Lo and Ben.
J-Lo and Ben have a better chance at long-lasting romance than J.J. and Bill. Good thing there's a hole in the Texas Stadium roof. That's the only way those two egos are going to fit in the same place.

Bill Parcells? Give J.J. this: At least he didn't go for the compromise candidate. With one bold and daring swoop, he changed the face of his entire team. In fact, changing faces is becoming something of a hobby for him.

That's all fine and good, of course. It's his cash, his team and, no matter how many home runs A-Rod hits or Blizzards Mark Cuban serves, his town. I just hope he got a prenup. Because, if Parcells' history tells us anything, it's this: Even in a big pond, there's only room for the Big Tuna.

Both newlyweds are happy, of course. Parcells has smiled more in the past week than Jack Nicholson did as the Joker. And, of course, they both said all the right things Thursday, when it finally became official. But then, what are they supposed to say? Besides, Parcells has had a lot of practice at this stuff. At 61, he has had more introductory press conferences than birthday parties.

It can't be a bad move, not when you've become a laughingstock, when Dave Campo is the guy you're replacing, when you haven't won more than five games in a season in this century. Parcells has a way with players. He knows this coaching gig cold and, more important, still has a passion for it. He'll get it done in Dallas, just like he got it done in New England and twice in New York.

For awhile -- two years, maybe three -- things will work. Parcells will coach and allow Jones to own the team. And then he'll bolt, just like he did all those other times, just like Jimmy Johnson did before him. Funny thing about Parcells. The more success he has, the more volatile things get. And before you know it, he's gone, retired to the TV studio until his latest "last coaching job" comes along.

In the end, the Parcells-Jones marriage could make the Campo era seem downright Landryesque. In the end, Parcells might wish he had waited a few years to coach the Packers, whose owners sit on bar stools across the state of Wisconsin instead of meddling in their coach's affairs.

Not that any of this is groundbreaking stuff. Fact is, the inexorable pursuit of Ws always has made for strange bedfellows. With the ink barely dry on Parcells' four-year contract, here's a look at some of the other shaky marriages in the history of sports:

1. Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin
More than 20 years later, the words still hang in the air like a Coors Field curveball: "One's a liar, the other's convicted." We're left to wonder what would have happened if Billy and Reggie had thrown down that day in the Yankee Stadium dugout. Sure, Reggie had the tale of the tape covered, but Billy wasn't exactly a marshmallow salesman himself.

Mike Shanahan
"I want my $250,000!!!!"
2. Mike Shanahan and Al Davis
To this day, Shanahan can't figure out why Davis ever hired him to be the Raiders head coach. But what really chaps Shanahan's bacon is Davis' steadfast refusal to pay him the $250,000 left on his contract when Davis fired him during the 1989 season. Shanahan countered a few years later by ordering Elvis Grbac to whiz the ball past Davis' ear during pregame warmups in San Francisco.

3. Eric Lindros and Bobby Clarke
Somebody forgot to tell these two about this City of Brotherly Love business. First, Lindros was desperate to get to Philly. Then he was desperate to escape. By the time he finally got outta Dodge, you got the distinct impression he wouldn't have minded giving Clarke a few concussions of his own.

4. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe
They seemed like the perfect couple -- Joltin' Joe, the self-ascribed greatest living ballplayer and Marilyn, a five-tool player if ever there was. Alas, their marriage in the late '50s didn't last as long as the Cubs' pennant hopes.

5. Dan Reeves and John Elway
The final tally for these two during their days with the Broncos: three Super Bowls lost, but no love. Talk about guilt by association. When Elway went public with his disdain for his coach, Reeves blamed Shanahan, then the Broncos offensive coordinator.

DiMaggio and Monroe marry
The DiMaggio-Monroe union looked good on paper ... but ended up in the wastebasket.
6. Babe Ruth and Miller Huggins
They inspired the storyline for "Throw Mama from the Train." One day, the Babe became so incensed with Huggins' antagonizing ways -- and so full of Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert's hops and grains -- he decided to dangle his manager out the back of a moving train.

7. Larry Brown and Allen Iverson
One is old school, the other new wave. One has an artificial hip, the other grooves to hip-hop. Yo, AI, don't blame the reporters. Your coach is the one talking about practice, man.

8. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw
You know, if they hadn't detested each other, the Steelers might have gotten that one for the thumb. Heck, they might have made it all the way to toe rings.

9. Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka
Da Coach wouldn't have minded the players carrying Ryan on their shoulders after the Super Bowl if they had just tossed him on the ground when they were done.

10. P.J. Carlesimo and Latrell Sprewell
This wins by a neck as the worst sports marriage of them all. Carlesimo never panned out as an NBA coach, but it doesn't really matter. He's just glad to be alive and breathing after his post-practice encounter with Sprewell's inner demons. And to think, Spree was the one who filed the lawsuit.

Jim Armstrong, a sports columnist for the Denver Post, will be a regular contributor to Page 2.



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