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Tough Haley Gaining More Say-So With Parcells

(Editor's Note: Since Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells has hired three new assistant coaches and upgraded the responsibilities of four others, will take a look at their duties in a seven-part series. Today's final part of the series will focus on passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Todd Haley.)

IRVING, Texas - Todd Haley would like to be better known for becoming the Cowboys' passing game coordinator.

He'd probably like to be known as the guy who turned Patrick Crayton from an NAIA Jack-of-all-trades into an NFL receiver.

Heck, he'd probably not even mind if everyone recognized him for being the son of Dick Haley, long-time NFL personnel guy with the Steelers and Jets.

But no, bring up the name Todd Haley, and it's like, "Isn't he the guy Parcells punched on the sideline?"

Nice claim to fame.

"That was a love tap," Haley says of the fourth-quarter incident in last season's Seattle game, precipitated by voicing his displeasure with an official's call a little too vehemently, evidently irritating Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, who was doing a nice enough job of voicing his own opinion at the time.

But then that's Haley, opinionated, outspoken and head-strong - a tad edgy - and why many might have been surprised when Parcells decided to upgrade the responsibilities of this third-year Cowboys wide receiver coach to also include that of the all-important passing coordinator following the departure of Sean Payton.

Confusing as it may be, a Parcells kind of guy.

There is this perception of Parcells The Tyrant, and that all he wants is to surround himself with guys who will acquiesce to his every whim. That he wants "yes" men as his aides, and that he listens to no one but himself.

But maybe that's not true. Parcells gave Haley his first shot at coaching, back in 1997 when he was with the Jets. And we're talking about hiring a guy who had never played football beyond the high school level. He was a collegiate golfer.

So Parcells knew something about the kid when he hired him in 2004 to become the Cowboys' wide receiver coach. And if he needed reminding, he then worked with the now 39-year-old assistant for two years here before deciding to upgrade his responsibilities for 2006.

Parcells is well aware Haley has been known to challenge him with what can be a rather frank approach.

In fact, when talking to Haley about his what can be brusque, straight-forward personality, he readily admits, "My wife says I'm ornery."

"Oh yeah, we've got some of them around here . . . it's good," Parcells said, known to relish confrontation.


! Name: Todd Haley
Age: 39
Passing game coordinator/wide receivers

Coaching Experience: 9 years
NFL Experience: 9 years
Coaching Highlights:
New York Jets offensive assistant (1997-97); Jets wide receivers coach (1999-2000); Chicago wide receivers coach (2001-2003); Cowboys wide receivers coach (2004-present).

That doesn't irritate you?

"I don't take that . . . I kind of like that because I know where his heart is and I know what his intention is," Parcells said of Haley being unafraid to voice his opinion. "I think he's making good progress as a coach, and I do think he has a good future in the business. I'm hopeful for him.

"God knows, he's got four kids, he's got to do something to make a living."

Parcells has seen a good portion of that progress. Haley began his NFL career in 1995 with the Jets, following in his dad's footsteps by working in the Jets' scouting department. So it was Parcells who elevated him to offensive assistant under Charlie Weis two years later (1997-98) and then to receivers coach (1999-2000).

And it was Parcells who hired him again after Haley spent the next three seasons with the Chicago Bears. So it's not as if Parcells went running from the guy some might perceive as the Dennis The Menace of assistant coaches.

"Before I was a young, know-nothing guy," Haley says of now possibly having gained some cred with Parcells. "I think his method is to see who is willing to stand up for what they believe in, and if you stand up for it, then he knows you believe in it."

Chances are Haley will be little different from Payton, who believed in jazzing up what some think is a Parcells-influenced stodgy offense. He'd like to be more wide open.

And that probably was before the Cowboys acquired Terrell Owens, who might present more of a challenge to Haley than Parcells. Haley is blunt. He doesn't mince many words. But you can bet Haley as the passing game coordinator will want to use Owens more often than not.

"I've been fighting the guy for 10 years," Haley said of his relationship with Parcells over offensive football. "None of that is going to change. He listens to you if you hold strong in your beliefs.

"I don't crumble."

Evidently not. Because if he was the crumbling type, he already would have been in little pieces. Let's just say you get the distinct idea Parcells isn't the nurturing type, and that if he does dabble in raising his young, it would be more from a challenging standpoint than understanding.

So you know Haley has some backbone to him.

Now a little more will be determined about his offensive acumen. Haley will be working closely with running game coordinator Tony Sparano and first-year Cowboys quarterback coach Chris Palmer, a former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator, in putting together the Cowboys' offense.

Oh, and no doubt with Parcells, too, who at this point appears poised to once again call plays, something he allowed Payton to do last year. All just another step in Haley's coaching maturation.

"He has pretty good experience now with a couple different kinds of offenses," Parcells said, explaining why he decided to promote Haley. "Obviously he's a young guy that I'm trying to groom and bring along. He's got a good football background; it's been in his family his whole life. It's very important to him; he has a lot of passion for it. Winning means something to him. I'm hopeful that he continues to expand.

"Now he does have more responsibility and we'll see how it goes. That's pretty much how all of them that I've had . . . that's the course that they've followed. Todd has really been probably right in step with that. I don't mean just here. I mean when he started with us in New York and then going to Chicago and then coming here. It's not like he's a novice now."

By no means. And both guys know what they are getting into.

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