IRVING, Texas – Now down to just a handful of days before the start of training camp, the questions, projections and predictions of the Cowboys’ 2013 season are starting to surface even more.
This is the time of year for that. Forecasting and finger-pointing go hand and hand. And for the Cowboys, the person that gets most of the criticism, if not the vast majority, is owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys have won just one playoff game since 1996 – that stat gets pointed out in just about every setting possible – and the man behind it all is Jones.
Publicly, he’s the man who fired Tom Landry. He’s the one who couldn’t get along with Jimmy Johnson and he’s the one making all the decisions – especially the wrong ones – that have prevented the Cowboys from climbing that proverbial mountain.
But according to one of the more well recognized coaches that ever worked for him, there is a big misperception to how things operate at Valley Ranch.
Bill Parcells, who is about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, coached in Dallas four years and said his time with the Cowboys was “enjoyable.” He also spoke of that misperception between Jerry and his head coaches.
“Oh yeah, definitely. I think it’s distorted,” Parcells said. “I think there’s a definite misperception. I just think everyone thinks things are a certain way. I didn’t see it to be that way. I think Jerry is a good businessmen and a good listener. What you have to do is make sense to him. You’ve got to make sense to him. If he thinks you’re making sense, he’ll alter his opinion. I enjoyed him. I like him. I like him a lot.”
Parcells coached the Cowboys from 2003-06, putting them in the playoffs twice with three winning records. Although he decided to stop coaching the team in 2006, Parcells said he remains friends with the Cowboys’ owner to this day.
“I liked my experience there,” Parcells said. “It didn’t turn out perfect from a record-standpoint. I understand all of that. But I learned a lot and I enjoyed working there.
“Jerry and I are pretty good friends. I don’t know whether or not people know that. We talk a little bit. I wouldn’t say frequently. We talk a little bit. We talked recently. It’s good. And I’m close with Stephen [Jones], too. I enjoyed working there with the Joneses. They were supportive and tried to help.”
One of things Jerry gets criticized for the most is the way he apparently dabbles into the Cowboys’ every-day business, although as the general manager, it is certainly within his job description. Jerry is a hands-on owner and GM but according to Parcells, that passion is what drew him to the Cowboys job in the first place.
“We had some mutual friends. I was very close with Al Davis and I know Jerry was, too,” Parcells recalled. “I had a little background information from Al – not about working for the Cowboys, just about what they were trying to do. I knew he had a lot of passion for his work and his job and his organization. I could name a few organizations I don’t feel that about. The owner is just blasé about ‘if we win we win, good; if we don’t, that’s all right.’
“But Jerry isn’t like that. You want to be somewhere where it’s important to the people and certainly it’s a high-profile franchise without question. I just felt like those are the kinds of things I look forward to. I was trying to do something at a place like that. I like them. I think they’re a good group. I think they’re passionate. I think they’re trying to be successful in the business. Hey, that’s all a coach can ask for.”
If there is anyone who might be able to compare coaching situations, it would be Parcells, who led four different teams: the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. Parcells also worked in the front office of the Dolphins.
But although the NFL doesn’t make players or coaches distinguish what team they are associated with for the Hall of Fame the way baseball does, Parcells makes it clear.
“I’m going in as a Giant,” Parcells said. “That was a place I spent 10 full years, two as an assistant and eight as a head coach. I certainly didn’t spend more than four years anywhere else. I think, identification-wise, I’m more with the Giants than any other franchise, just because of longevity.”
Parcells also says he was ahead of the time in terms of NFL coaches today. He sees coaches and players bouncing around from team to team much more than they did in the past.
“I was a product of what you see around the league now,” Parcells said. “When I first came into the league, the league wasn’t as transient in nature – players or coaches. Coaches stayed at one place and players stayed in one place. But with free agency and different ownership, the dynamic of the industry has changed a little bit. It’s become more transient in nature. You see a guy like Mike Shanahan … he’s a head coach in three different places. You see more of that than what you used to. It’s just the nature of the business. It’s a little more volatile and a little more transient. Change is a little more on the forefront than it was 30 years ago.”
Parcells showed he was never one to avoid change. He actually embraced it. And while he’s gone through many stops along the way, his time in Dallas gives him fond memories.
Although the Cowboys might have several problems facing them as they head into this season, there are many pundits who believe the GM might be the biggest issue.
There is one soon-to-be-inducted Hall of Fame coach who would disagree.