Cowboys name Parcells their new coach

Posted: Friday, January 03, 2003

IRVING, Texas -- Already sporting Cowboys silver and blue on his tie, Bill Parcells is back in the NFL as coach of a down-and-out Dallas team desperate to return to glory.

Parcells was introduced Thursday after more than a week of speculation and conflicting reports about a coach with a history of walking away from deals.

The two-time Super Bowl winner was hired three days after team owner Jerry Jones fired Dave Campo, saying he wanted a proven coach and a ''change in philosophy.''

''I realize this is a tremendous undertaking,'' Parcells said. ''I certainly wouldn't have done this if I wasn't committed to making the effort. I come here with a great deal of exuberance, enthusiasm and determination.''

Parcells, who got a four-year contract worth about $17.1 million, will try to turn around a team that went 15-33 in the last three seasons. He is the first Cowboys coach with prior experience as an NFL head coach.

Dallas won the last of its five Super Bowls -- three under Jones -- in 1996 and hasn't had a winning record since 1998.

''I look forward to getting the team back to a place of prominence, a place of high-competitiveness,'' Parcells said. ''I became convinced that this was the opportunity at this time that was right.''

Jones described Parcells as the ''most qualified coach in our sport that you could draw up if you were drawing your own Rembrandt.''

The 61-year-old Parcells coached 15 seasons for three teams, taking the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets from losing records to the playoffs in two seasons.

He led the Giants to their only two Super Bowl victories, took the Patriots to the NFL title game and the Jets to the AFC championship game.

After leaving the Jets, Parcells said he never wanted to coach again. He even wrote a book: ''The Final Season: My Last Year as Head Coach in the NFL.''

That was seven years after he took the Patriots job, saying that would be his ''last coaching job, without question.''

Still, he signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year only to change his mind. He also backed out of an agreement with the Bucs in 1992, but isn't walking away from the Cowboys.

''This is a situation that just hit me. Once we started talking, we kept going forward and forward and forward,'' Parcells said. ''I know the window of opportunity was definitely closing on me. This opportunity, this situation has a nice appeal to me.''

Parcells is 138-100-1 in regular-season games and 11-6 in the playoffs. Only four coaches have more postseason wins.

Parcells will have more authority than anyone since Jimmy Johnson, the first coach Jones hired after buying the team in 1989. He also will be the first Dallas coach to make more than $1 million a season.

Jones and Parcells create an unlikely pair.

Jones is also the team's general manager and has relished total control of the organization. Parcells is an unyielding taskmaster who expects authority over his coaching staff and the final say on the roster.

But both men want to get back to the Super Bowl.

Parcells said he agreed to a ''partnership'' with Jones and that he accepted the owner would have the final say in many decisions -- although neither man gave details of how they will work together.

''There will be changes here, there's no doubt about that,'' Parcells said.

Jones said he already has given Parcells ''prior approval'' on any changes he wants to make with the coaching staff.

The coach declined to say whether he would invite running back Emmitt Smith to return, or whether he would bring in a new quarterback. The Cowboys started two young quarterbacks this season.

Campo was fired Monday after being the first Dallas coach with three straight seasons of at least 10 losses. He also became the first coach to leave with a losing record, and the only one never to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.

Jones first met with Parcells for five hours in New Jersey on Dec. 18, when the Cowboys still had two games left. They talked again for about six hours last Friday.

Parcells seems like a good pick to turn the team around.

The Giants were 4-5 in the strike-shortened season before Parcells took over in 1983. They made the playoffs his second season and won the Super Bowl in his fourth and eighth seasons.

In New England, he took a team that was 2-14 before his arrival and got them into the playoffs in his second season. They reached the Super Bowl in his fourth season.

Then he left for the Jets, which went from 1-15 without him to the AFC title game two years later.

With each of those teams, Parcells quickly established a good quarterback situation, something that has been lacking in Dallas with seven different starters the last three years.

Dallas still has NFL career rushing leader Smith, but the 34-year-old running back just finished his 13th season and, without a drastic pay cut, will count for nearly $10 million against the salary cap.

The Cowboys will have the fifth or sixth pick in the April draft, their highest since taking Russell Maryland as No. 1 in 1991.

Parcells would have automatically been a finalist in the Jan. 25 voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame because he finished in the top seven in last year's balloting. But he will be removed from the ballot because a coach who is elected to the Hall must be retired for good.



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