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Parcells as ringmaster

John Clayton thinks that Bill Parcells' somewhat distant relationship with enigmatic receiver Terrell Owens is the perfect formula. In a long article, Clayton examines how the Coach has treated Owens since his arrival and how it's worked out thus far into the season.

For one, Parcells doesn't mention Owens by name. He either says "he" or "the player." That's smart. At the Eagles' first press conference with Owens after he signed in 2004, coach Andy Reid called him "Terr-ELL" (not "TERR-ell"). Owens was bold enough to reach around Reid's back and correct him before the flashing camera lights.

A surprised Reid retorted that he would just call him "T.O." Parcells doesn't have time to worry about mispronouncing Owens' name.

As we know - those who follow the Cowboys and read this blog - Parcells has occasionally let Terrell Owens name slip in press conferences, but the idea behind what Clayton is saying is still valid. Parcells has neither the time nor inclination to deal with Owens on any other level than as just another football player on the team. By doing this, he sucks the air out of the some of the controversies that follow Owens wherever he goes. While everyone else was panicking about what a distraction the pain killer's incident was last week, Parcells was calm and confident that his team wasn't distracted. They weren't, and part of that is Parcells' unwillingness to add fuel to the supposed fires. By not engaging in the media circus and treating these things as nothing particularly out of the ordinary, his team follows his path and to some extent so does Owens.

It's very helpful that Parcells isn't looking at Owens as anything other than a cog in the Cowboys offensive machine. He neither elevates him to savior status nor denigrates him to clown status. He simply is one of two starting wide receivers on the team.

Owens isn't the team's main focus. No matter how talented he is, Owens probably won't win the complete trust of quarterback Drew Bledsoe the way Terry Glenn has. Glenn and Bledsoe have played together for eight seasons. The Cowboys' offense isn't built around Owens.

"I try to coach him like I would coach anybody else, that's the way I describe it," Parcells said Wednesday about the way he's handling T.O.

In other words, Parcells is doing his best to fit a superstar into a team concept. So far, it's working.

So far, it is working. The Cowboys offense looks as good as it has since the days of the Triplets. Granted, it's very early in the Owens Era here in Dallas, he did manage to get along quite well in Philly for a year. So anything is still possible, and I still think we'll hit a major speed bump somewhere along the way. But it's quite possible that when that time arrives, Parcells will treat it as just another day, with no implications one way or the other, and the situation will resolve itself.

Or he'll cut him. Just like he's done to many players along the way, none more special than the rest.

By the way, while you there reading the Clayton story on ESPN, be sure to check out the box on the side, where you can find article after article on Owens.

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