Chicken of the coaching sea
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

Happy New Year, you slimy worms! Hey, if you don't like it, imagine how Cowboys like talented rook WR Antonio (Eightball) Bryant must feel. Bryant just knows he's the jit, as a Vandy footballer might say (Copyright © 2002 Curry Kirkpatrick). Wait 'til New Jack Tonio gets a load of Tuna, the combination Stanley Kubrick and Gunny Hartman. Straight Outta "Full Metal Jacket."

Tuna's hiring at Big D by Jerry Jones leaves two top jobs open, with three top candidates. Why, it's like big-time musical chairs!

Bill Parcells
If you give Bill Parcells the right "groceries," he's proven that he can eat up the NFL.
There's another topkick left in the recycle bin, Denny Green (Tom Coughlin hasn't spent his mandatory year as an ESPN analyst yet).

Then, among the whose-turn-is-it assistants, on the R-Dub-let's-avoid-getting-sued-here scale, there are Marvin Lewis, Skins' D-coordinator, and Al Saunders, O-coordinator of the Chiefs. Them going on to Cincy, Jax or Detroit City means some bad times on the reservation for the teams they leave behind -- don't blame me, I didn't name them -- but these are the two brightest minds and best guys available, and on this I brook no argument.

Marvin Lewis. Al Saunders. Period. End of story.

If Green and Lewis joining the Guild happens to get Cyrus Mehri off the NFL necks, why, what a coincidence -- sort of like Jerry calling Denny when he knew all along he wanted to hire Tuna. Unlike you, you don't see Jerry Jones scoffing at diversity issues. That's because he, unlike you, would have to pay treble damages.

***** ***** *****

What's green and black and blue all over? The wild card round and the playoffs in general. Not to mention the Super Bowl, itself.

This weekend's picks, the F-7 Stealth Jets and the Foaming Pack and the Scene-Steelers and the Jints.

Can presumed losers, the Foals and Falcs and Brownies and Ninos, change fate? Why, of course they can.

To paraphrase Herm Edwards:

Herm Edwards
Turns out Herman Edwards was a savior after all.
"Hel-lo ... that's why ... they play ... the game."

It helps to play the game with the best players, and everybody has some of those (nobody has that many, except the Iggles and Raider Nation). Think of the scripted high drama that played out over last weekend at the Meadowlands. On Saturday, the Giants overcome four fumbles by little Tiki Longstocking and put it on the back of the newest action-adventure franchise hero, SHOCKEY!

Then the next day, the Jets come in facing being shut out of the playoffs; during the game, a miracle -- terminal ex-champ Patriots rally up north -- and then conveniently expire as Jets take care of the rest. Everybody's redeemed, Tiki, Collins, Shock-zilla, Ricky-Ricky-Ricky, Pats, Herm, Chrebet, Chad Penny ("Broadway Joe lives!" -- Roger Ebert: "A John Wayne for a new generation!" raves The Times -- that's the Augusta Times, but who cares?).

And the winner for best original screenplay is -- Pete Rozelle. Accepting for Pete, who could not be with us, are his wife, Carrie, and Al Davis.

On Any Given Sunday, indeed.

The Jets came into their last game thinking, no matter what they did, they probably would be put out of the playoffs with Miami -- with Jason Taylor, maybe the best DE in the League, two corners even Deion admits are the best tandem in the league, an 1,800 yard Heisman Trophy-winning runner, bulldog tackling machine Zach Thomasing the middle -- favored. So what did El Miamachi do? Lose. And what did the Jets do? They not only blew out another green team, the Packers, they also won the division in the process.

Of course, in "real life" these "divisions" are only four teams deep, and there are eight divisions total in the NFL, so it is like being crowned king of a neighborhood more than a kingdom.

Still, it's something, being one of 12 left out of 32.

Three of the five best teams left wear Green: (1) The Iggles, R-Dub chalk favorite to go to the Super Bowl; (2) Raider Nation, a healthy Charles Woodson short of making the Super Bowl a push; (3) The F-7 Stealth Jets; (4) The Tites, the hot club, the one team in the AFC whose QB knows what it is to take a team to the Bowl; and (5) The Foaming Pack, which drew the short straw-Vick, first round.

Ricky Williams
How can you NOT give the ball to Ricky?
Having said that, in the words of screenwriter William Goldman, "Nobody knows anything." The F-7s, Foaming Pack, Scene-Steelers and Jints should close the show, but even the lowly Foals and Brownskis will show up. So will you, no doubt, you slimy ... what's that? You say you don't respond to abuse?

Tell it to the Wild Card Uncensored Thought Balloons, and leave your playbook with the funny little man over there:

A.J. Feely, QB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "Aw ... that was interference against Chad Lewis in ovetime! Oh, you can just die over holding calls against the Giants, but how come you commentators weren't screaming about interference on Lewis? Do the words, 'Shameless Homers, Don't Play That' ring a bell? My wife told me how the TV guys were pulling for the Giants. What about me!? I was planning on taking Big 5's job and feeding my family, buying them a French restaurant, and town and villa to go with it. You, on the other hand, wanted a free trip to Sun Diego ... what's big 5 got that I don't?"

Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "... for that 18 mil bonus I just deposited, oh, let me guess, think I'll be starting. You? In the immortal words of Ray Lewis, time for big boy school. A.J.'s probably thinking what do I have that he doesn't. A broken ankle, for one thing. Up to me to make sure we don't blow this shot at the Bowl. I don't think I will. Why not? Look at my bared teeth ..."

Bill Parcells, coach, Dallas Cowboys -- "Yeah, Metroplex, take a good look at these teeth. Look like I'm smiling, m%&$#***!?"

Kerry Collins, QB, New York Giants -- "Happy? Sure I'm happy. What's not to be happy about? I'm Cuban-cigar happy. But I'll be even happier with some time to throw this week. It hurts getting sacked. I wonder if people realize that. That's pain, dude, serious pain. And I don't know about you, but I've got better things to do than get prepped for off-season surgery with an anesthesiologist who looks like he spent last night testing the product. So coach Fasselized, while you're all puffed up feeling good about yourself, just make sure we account for BY, and that Julian Whatever guy. Otherwise, I'm throwing it up in the general direction of Toomer and Shockey, and bailing. That's all Bradshaw and Warner did. Throw it up there, and if we've got the best guys, they come down with it. I gotta like our guys. But still, I need time ... (hears clock ticking in slow motion, sings the rest) ... time ... time ... time."

Charlie Garner, RB, Oakland Raiders -- "Bling-blingin' in the rain, baby. Warm jukes for everybody, baby. Just gimme here, baby. Yeah, I do speak jive. You speak juke, m&$@%#%#@&!?"

Dick Vermeil, coach, Kansas City Chiefs -- "Us? I don't want to think about us. There is no us. Like I told that guy, I just got my butt handed to me by the Raiders ... so us this. Weaver's not going to do any better, getting rid of Tom Coughlin. He's a helluva game coach. A helluva coach. I hear Dungy told him that right after their game, said, 'You're a helluva a football coach.' The guy they ought to question is Wannie. How in hell do you go 11-5 without Ricky Williams for two straight years, then 9-7 with him and his 1,800-plus yards? Takes some real ability to be as nondescript as all that. Wannie's a glorified coordinator, but so are a lot of guys. Hell, people don't know, my O guy, Al Saunders needed to be a head coach waaay before Wannie. But I don't want Al or Wannie going anywhere. Especially Wannie. I gotta beat Miami next year."

Dave Campo, coach, er, ex-coach, Dallas Cowboys -- "Sheesh, people don't know, but a guy like me, I'm proud to have been the Dallas Cowboys coach at all. I mean, it was me or Avezzano, and I would've felt real bad if I had lost out to that shtutz. Parcells, huh? Good pick. Good luck on that chicken salad, Bill. Why don't you let me carry that bag for you? Me? DBs coach? Why ... sure!"

Steve Spurrier
What's worse -- losing to FSU or losing to everyone in the NFL?
Steve Spurrier, coach, Washington Redskins -- "Parcells? Why I ain't a-skired of no Bill Parcells ... what's that weak jit the Glazers are a-talkin' about compensation for Parcells? They got their man in Chucky. But don't tell me now they don't feel abused, since the Raiders got Phil Buchanon, Doug Jolley, two more Hurricanes in the next draft, not to mention 8 mil. 'Gone With The Wind,' Kinda."

Keith Bulluck, LB, Tennessee Titans -- "No Titans in the Pro Bowl? Well, lemme ask you this, all you smart guy Pro Bowl voters -- is that a Titan in your earhole? Or are you just glad to see us? Hey, Javon, hey Tank, hey K.Carter, let's form our own Drumline."

David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- (sings) "Seventy-six sacks in the big parade, 106 welts on my butt ... (stops singing, cries) ... it's over. It's finally, finally, really, really over ... isn't it?"

Ricky Williams, RB, Miami Dolphins -- "That dog came oozing out of our pores. You could feel it, man, even when we were up 24-13. I could smell it, the not knowing, the choke-osity ... had the nerve to look at me with puppy-dog eyes when it was over. I got on 180 yards worth of deodorant, a buck-eighty and two TDs worth of Mitchum. That's why stars get mad when we don't get the ball, because somebody else is gonna screw it up and we still gonna get looked at cross-eyed. Tired of being looked at cross-eyed ... these kickers suck so bad. Horrible. I don't feel like cross-dressing anymore. Now I'm mad (hisses like a mad alley cat)."

Adam Vinatieri, KR, New England Patriots -- "Olindo Mare, kicking it out of bounds in overtime, giving us field position. Royals, with that "punt" -- if you want to call it that. Me? I'll never miss. I imagine myself having to go back to South Dakota broke and dateless if I do ... that's why I don't miss and I never will."

Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons -- "So ... all we gotta do is go to Green Bay and win, right? So ... Green Bay has never lost in the playoffs at Lambeau Field ... so ... let's draft Kellen Winslow Jr."

Tim Couch, QB, Cleveland Browns -- "Kelly Holcombe. Right. My backup's a Backstreet Boy ... I think Butch is secretly glad I broke my leg. Maybe not glad. I definitely sense relief, though."

Tom Coughlin, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "I'll take two hats in Cincy in a heartbeat. No? 'Monday Morning QB,' come on down."

Jimmy Smith, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "Sic semper ty-what-is? Well, I don't know about that. But if you notice, the same thing always happens to sicko tyrant coaches. Then again, the same thing eventually happens to all coaches, so maybe sicko tyrant is the way to go. Better that than to be pecked and Mornhinweged to death."

Edgerrin James
Even a half-healthy Edge could give the Colts the edge.
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts -- "C'mon, Edge, c'mon, big boy, nobody's ever come back from an ACL restruct in one year and been back to himself, but there's gotta be a first time for everything ... I need my Edge back ... we can hit some stuff on the Jets. Problem is, they can probably hit more stuff on us. Problem is, they're rolling up the entire boroughs of Queens in coverage on Marvin. I look at the weapons Chad Penny's got and my mouth waters; which leaves a funny taste in my mouth later, and then ..."

Brian Billick, coach, Baltimore Ravens -- "Is this my last chance to speak on the record this year? 'Inside the NFL' hasn't called back? In that case, I have a few things to say. Made a few notes to refer to (pulls out a full notebook, its overstuffed pages festooned with Post-Its, clears throat) ... first ... hey, who turned out the lights? Ozzie? Somebody get me Ozzie ... Ozzie ... I need ya in here ..."

Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "Baltimore. Hmm. The way Billick was batting his eyes at me. Hmm. Cleveland? That's a publicity shoot for the Steelers ... let me just ride this wave right on out of town. Where to? Have gun, will travel. Somebody will want me. Somebody? You out there? Anybody? Anybody at all ...?"

Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "I feel like baking some Brownies. Randle El, Plexi, Tommy Maddox, and me. I feel like Hud. We shoot Brownies, don't we, if they have hoof-and-mouth? Yeah. Our hooves, and their mouths ... rollin', rollin', rollin' ..."

Jim Anderson, assistant coach, Cincinnati Bengals -- "Yeah, it would make sense for the team to hire me. That's why they won't. Just to be ornery. Just to say nobody tells them what to do."

Gilbert Brown, DL, Green Bay Packers -- "Oh, right, yeah, perfect. Last team I wanted to see in the first round was Atlanta. I need a motorcycle to chase Vick around ... make sure we have a de-fib unit on the sidelines. Make sure there's plenty of oxygen ..."

Herm Edwards, coach, New York Jets -- "It's going to hurt me to do this to my revered mentor, the guy who taught me coaching and about how to win in this league in December. It's gonna be tough for me to take a axe to Mahatma Dungy. It's really going to hurt me. For a minute. OK, a quick minute. OK, 10 seconds. OK, a second. OK, a passing notion, a feeling like déjà vu ... hi, Tony, how are you? Shake, brother. Now excuse me while I try to rip your guts out by the root. You know how it is, Tone. Brothers gotta do damage in the playoffs, or else it's outtahere ... love ya, Tone. Now excuse me while I explain how much to my players. Fellas ... No prisonaws! ... No prisonaws! ... Chad Penny is absolutely undeniably unnbleepingconscious. I'm not gonna try to explain it or take credit for it. Not that anybody was giving me the credit for it. Paul Hackett? Well, yeah, Paul is a great quarterbacks coach; he also looks likes nebbishy older brother of Jonathan Banks, who played Zach, Victor Maitland's Thug No. 1 in "Beverly Hills Cop." But is anybody noticing what a nice sequence he's calling? Everybody's calling me for tickets ... this is worse than Powerball. I saw Fassel talking to Brett Favre before the game. He wants all of New York for himself. I just want a piece of it. We are the Gangs of New York. We are Gang Green. Well, Jimmy me boy. Strap it up. They'd already torn up the field ... we're treated like second-class. Think I'll tell it to the fellas, but not when anybody's taping it ... that 'hel-lo-oh ... you play ... to win ... the game,' thing really worked out for me ... not the Gettysburg Address, but you can't get that into a 10-second bite anyway ... breaks into song) I want to be a part of it, da-dum, New York, New Yorrrk ..."

Wayne Chrebet
Cut out the acrobatics, Wayne, and you'll be cool with Herm.
Wayne Chrebet, WR, New York Jets -- Guys, can you get me off the hook. For old times' sake. You can! Wheeee! (douses Herm Edwards with Gatorade, hugs him like he's Mrs. Chrebet)."

Jim Fassel, coach, New York Giants -- "Moocher will make me."

Steve Mariucci, coach, San Francisco 49ers -- "Look at Fassel. Smug twit. He knows he's got the guns. But we know who to go after. Give you one guess. He doesn't have a twin brother. Jimmy boy prob'ly thinks he'll sweep me. Mess around and get swept."

Warren Sapp, DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- "Parcells is going where? For a second, I thought they said he was coming here. He wouldn't fit here. We used the Method acting school; I'm its main practitioner ... Parcells, Spurrier, Dungy, Sherman ... every coach in the League has a silent grudge against us. Good. Look forward to this week off, maybe I'll have a 'Friday' saga movie festival."

Chucky Gruden, coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- "I don't care if we have to strap up Brad on his horse, like El Cid, he's playing. So it all comes out now ... so the Glazers did sign Parcells to a four-year deal last year ... they did see me as sloppy-seconds bail-out move. Yeah, I feel so bad, I'm boo-hooing all the way to the ATM. Now they -- excuse me, we -- are trying to get compensation for Parcells. If we can get draft choices out of it, my feelings aren't hurt. I was worth two No. 1s, two No. 2s and eight mil. Look at me. Now look at Parcells. Alfred Hitchcock was a great director, but would I bring him back to helm "Titanic"? I don't think so. Helm. I like that word. Daily Variety uses it a lot. Heard D.Green say he's repped by IMG. Maybe a group of us can pool resources and buy one. No, not a franchise. A studio. Isn't Fox in play?"

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."



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