Parcells began delivering that message the day he walked in the door. In his first training-camp practice in San Antonio two years ago, a backup player no longer with the team hurt his knee on one of the first plays of camp and started to limp off the field. Parcells sidled up to the player and growled, "Where are you going? Get back in the *&!%$#& huddle."
Last year showed the head coach that in addition to needing better players, he needed his remaining players to be better. He made no secret of the fact that he drove himself physically in the off-season to be in better condition to drive his players harder this year.
Some of them get it. At least one key player suffered an injury a week ago Saturday in Arizona that maybe six people know about, and the medical staff may not be in that group. He played and played well Monday night.
An old football adage holds that "You can't make the club in the tub", meaning the hot tub, meaning if you're getting treatment instead of practice reps, you might as well join a spa. Parcells doesn't even want his players to know where the tub is.
Critics say there's a fine line between mental toughness and physical stupidity. Parcells would probably tell you simply that he can't make a decision on a player he can't watch play. So rookie Rob Pettiti, still nursing an ankle injury, fights his way through it and gets back on the field in an attempt to win a job. He's learning the Parcells way, which in fact is the simple winning way in the NFL. Parcells didn't invent it, but he's sure a believer.
Once you've proven yourself, once you've demonstrated that you're mentally tough and can play the game the right way, the leash gets longer. Parcells sees how much Beriault wants it despite a gimpy knee, so he's held out of some practices so he can play. "Managing the condition" is what the coach calls it.
It's not about being an all-pro, either. Parcells knows that if Julius Jones or Dan Campbell or Dat Nguyen says he's hurt, he's not hurt, he's injured. But you have to prove it first.
Bill Parcells knows that rookies and young players don't know what they don't know, and one of those things is what it takes to play winning NFL football. If he has to send a message to give a massage, so be it.
He only knows one way, and as he likes to say, it's served him pretty well. If they're paying attention, the newbies will see the way, and the sooner the better.