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Friday, December 13, 2002
Parcells skips Tampa for a trip to Ohio
By Jack Arute
Special to ABC Sports Online
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back shopping for a new head coach. The best candidate on the market is the one they fired, so their choices are limited. That's what happens to disingenuous people.
I'm not arguing the merits of releasing Tony Dungy from his position as NFL coach. When you have the millions invested that an NFL team demands, you can make it your ultimate fantasy football team the way Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones do. Or you can run it like a business the way the Giants' Mara family or the Steelers' Rooneys have for so many years.
What you cannot do is get away with cutting a deal in a back room, leak the news distracting the playoff performance of your team, disenfranchise your GM and expect us to feel sorry for your plight.
The Glazer family that owns the Bucs got their just desserts. Bill Parcells left them at the altar after all but engineering the derailment of the franchise.
Parcells' courtship and the ensuing soap opera started last year when Tampa hosted Super Bowl XXXV. "Informed sources" whispered that Parcells was taking over the franchise's coaching role. By the time the former Giants, Patriots and Jets coach waltzed into the NFL Super Bowl headquarters denying the report, the wheels were in motion for season-long speculation. No matter what Tony Dungy accomplished, if it was short of delivering the Lombardi Trophy to Tampa Bay, he was gone.
By the time the Bucs left central Florida for their trip to the "City of Brotherly Love" for their wild-card tilt with the Eagles, the only love Dungy was getting was from players loyal to him and tired of the dissension. Published reports surfaced that as soon as the Bucs exited the playoffs (no speculation about winning or losing, just a question as to when), Parcells would be motoring his Tuna Boat into a Tampa Bay mooring.
Philly nailed Dungy's coffin shut with its thumping of the Bucs, and Keyshawn Johnson rhetorically started his lobbying effort for changes by his expected new coach, Parcells. Meanwhile, general manager Rich McKay was told he would be kicked upstairs, Dungy was released from his duties and Jets exec Mike Tannenbaum was interviewed for McKay's GM spot.
Meanwhile, both Malcolm Glazer and Bill Parcells remained silent.
The media watch hit high gear. Parcells was a lock. Steve Spurrier, who previously was on everyone's short list, went off to Redskins Park. Dungy circulated résumés to Carolina and Indianapolis, and Parcells discovered that like last year, he was a finalist for induction into the Hall of Fame.
There are many that believe that the Hall of Fame was what kept Parcells from taking the Tampa Bay job last year. There is no question that a guy with his credentials needs only a Hall of Fame induction to validate his Lombardi-like legacy.
When he failed to make it into the shrine last season and then found himself on the brink yet again this season, I'm sure the lure of a bronze bust in Canton superceded any thoughts Parcells had about delivering another team to the NFL's "Promised Land".
Reportedly a non-binding agreement allowed both Parcells and the Glazers an out from their surreptitiously crafted plan. It really doesn't matter. Amid tampering charges, Bill Parcells said, "I just don't have it in me to return to the coaching ranks," was the gist of Tuna's decision.
Glazer was left hanging -- much the way Parcells left his predecessor Hugh Culverhouse high and dry several decades ago -- while McKay was reinstalled (he actually never left the post) as GM and told to right the Bucs' sinking ship.
Jon Gruden surfaces now as the No. 1 choice to replace Parcells … er … Tony Dungy. Although Gruden has a year left on his Oakland contract, sources say that Al Davis will listen to a plan that would see the Raiders' coach shipped off to Florida in return for draft picks and financial consideration.
In the interim, Parcells remains in New Jersey waiting for the Saturday of Super Bowl weekend. That's when the balloting is announced for the NFL's Hall of Fame class of 2002.
|Bill Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants and was one game away from the championship with the Jets.||