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Parcells legacy; still a work in progress

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I have this mental image of Bill Parcells over the last few weeks. He's sitting in an office late at night, feverishly looking over contracts, stat sheets, free agent lists, the current roster and a thousand other assorted details. He's calling someone on the phone at 1:00 AM, but I don't have a clue who he's calling. It's Bill's world and he's not sharing with you and me. This is serious business to the Tuna, he wants another championship badly and time is running out. Assuming he retires after this year (granted it's not a sure thing), Parcells has one more chance at the mountaintop.

At the end of high-profile careers, legacies are pondered. Bill Parcells is certainly near the end of a high-profile career, a career that reached the pinnacle early and then never could regain that lofty status. Unquestioned in his knowledge of the game and acknowledged as a master motivator, Parcells will be remembered as a giant among coaches. But one thing would get him on the ballot for the Mount Rushmore of football coaches, another Super Bowl title. His career arc needs a dramatic ending, a bookend for his early success in New York.

Since those New York Giants teams Bill Parcells has been successful, but never as successful. It's like a music group that sells 10 million copies of an album, but then people start to wonder when the follow-up only sells 6 million. The whispers are out there; "maybe he's not quite the genius we thought he was," or "his record isn't that great without Bill Belichick." (That's true, without Belichick, Parcells' record is 46-50). His success plateau has declined in each of his coaching stops. The Giants were two-time champs, New England was a Super Bowl loser, the Jets reached the AFC Championship game, and Dallas has made the playoffs once, only to lose the first game. Legacies take a beating when the trend is downhill.

In the modern era, Parcells is falling behind in the biggest measuring stick for head coaches, Super Bowl victories. Chuck Noll has four, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs each have three. He's tied at two with seven other coaches: Tom Landry, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi, George Seifert, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Shanahan and Tom Flores. (Lombardi gets a break; his career was ending when Super Bowls began). Mike Holmgren could join that list on Sunday. If Holmgren does win, he'll beat Parcells to a unique club of one; coaches that have won Super Bowls with two franchises.

So you're Bill Parcells and you're facing your last chance, your last chance to pull out a stunner before riding off into the sunset. One final time on the cover of Sports Illustrated being carried off the field as a Super Bowl champ. A final shot to leave the impression of being the best, of once again beating all your rivals. John Elway rode a double-shot of late career Super Bowl publicity to the Pantheon of QB's. A third Super Bowl for Parcells, one capping his final season, would seal a legacy matched only by a select few.

Parcells would deny ever thinking about things like I've described, but the denials would ring hollow. Everybody thinks about how they are perceived; and ultra-successful, egotistical NFL head coaches probably do it more than most.

Given all that, Jerry Jones better have his checkbook close at hand. He may want to sell the 12-person hot tub shaped like Texas Stadium for a few extra bucks. Bill Parcells is going to roll the dice this year, and he's using Jerry's bankroll.

The plan is to pay whatever it takes to win a Super Bowl, because legacies are priceless.