Parcells, Coach For The Ages

the experts wrong. He loves to be unpredictable. He loves to stir the pot. 

Mostly, though, the game is him and he is the game. Not just football, not just Sundays at the stadium, although that's the essence of it. But the preparation, the teaching, the assembling talent. Parcells is reinvigorated by every Patrick McQuistan and Jay Ratliff he finds. The Jacob Rogerses and Stephen Petermans he can explain away to himself as part of the price of doing business. 

Monday he talked about the delight for him in seeing a Jamaica Rector listen to his year-old advice, get stronger, and become a player worthy of making his team. There is the same joy for Parcells in the early success of Rector in 2006 as any of his Giants in 1986.  

Listen to the way he reacted Wednesday to an innocent question about if he still gets the jitters over opening day: "They'll be in place pretty strongly by the weekend. You know, I can't really . . . and I'm not trying to be sentimental at all, but one of the great times in the NFL is opening Sunday, because everybody is kind of wondering what's going to happen . . . One of the great times is about five minutes before they kick that ball off on Sunday. One of the great, for me, one of the great adrenaline rushes that there is. A lot of other things in my body go away, but that one stays the same." 

It says here Bill Parcells is nowhere near ready to give that up. 

He is full of energy right now because it's September. There have been no losses, no serious injuries. (No blowups with temperamental receivers?) But he has seen all of those. He knows they're coming. He knows how to handle them. 

He also knows the effect all of this takes on him. This is the part that is his curse. Parcells is insecure. If he obsesses over anything, it might be his eventual place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That place was probably set had he never come to Dallas, but he wasn't sure. What he knows but can't avoid is that if his team wins Super Bowl XLI, he still won't be sure. Bet this: The day somewhere down the road he gets the call that he's in Canton, if he's still alive, he'll go somewhere private and cry like a baby. 

In the meantime, Bill Parcells does what he does. More to the point, he does what he is, much as he would like to be in more control of that. In training camp he could be heard talking about how much energy he had. Since the end of camp, he has said out loud how lucky he is to be doing something he loves so much at his age. 

That's why he talks about every experience being "more precious." Every win, every loss, every practice. It's getting closer to being over, and he knows it. 

And he hates it. Coaching football is plasma to Bill Parcells. It's where his essence lives. Sometimes he wishes it weren't so, but he knows the truth. 

You want a clue to Parcells, it says here, don't look at Dick Vermeil. Look at Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden. Parcells likes to reference what he learned from Tom Landry. Trust one who has worked with both: Parcells is more driven about coaching football at 65 than Landry was, and at 65, Landry was done coaching and didn't want to be. 

Maybe this is Bill Parcells' last year coaching. If it is, it won't be what he wants. And I think we have more of him in store. He can't get that adrenaline rush anywhere else.               

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