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The "Bill Parcells Home" for wayward NFL players

Michael Bradley of The Sporting News has written the best article I've read on Bill Parcells and the Terrell Owens situation. Bradley relies on in-depth quotes from former "Parcells Guys" to tease out the coaching style of the Tuna, and show how effective it's been in the past with some other problem children in the NFL.

I grant you, a lot of this has been said before, the old line goes: "If any coach can handle T.O. it's Parcells". But Bradley does a nice job of weaving together Parcells' statements, his players statements and the results from the past into a clear picture of how Parcells approaches players with unquestioned talent but questionable behavior.

He needles them, constantly; subtly questioning their manhood, sarcastically saying what needs to be said. The opening paragraphs of the article are particularly instructive, so I re-print them here in whole, but encourage everybody to click over and read the article.

Andre Tippett felt he had earned it. He was, after all, a 34-year-old 11-year veteran. As the Patriots' 1993 training camp wore on -- and the heat, contact and boredom asserted themselves -- Tippett craved a day off.

He floated the idea to new coach Bill Parcells. "I thought it was my time," Tippett says. It was his time, all right -- time to learn about Parcells.

"He said, 'I'm not going to give you a day off, but if you think you need it, take it,' " Tippett says. "That left me on the spot. I thought, 'I better show up for practice.' "

Tippett showed up, but he had given Parcells some ammunition. For the next few practices, Parcells kept asking whether Tippett "had enough left in the tank" to play a full season. "He said, 'If you're so tired, take a couple days off. Go ahead and do that,' " Tippett recalls. All of a sudden, Tippett wasn't a five-time Pro Bowl player. He was a rookie again.

"I went back to my room and questioned myself," Tippett says. "I started running an extra lap at the end of practice. I lifted a little more and ate a little less. I committed myself to having my best year."

Tippett finished the '93 season -- his last in the NFL -- with 8.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries. And he played in all 16 games. Not bad for a tired old man. He credits Parcells with inspiring him to find that reserve supply of fuel and use every drop. And he serves as one of dozens of testimonials to the power of the Tuna, the NFL's master psychologist.

"He will try to find out what your weaknesses and strengths are," Tippett says. "He will go after your pride. He'll find out how motivated you are."

There, in a nutshell, is how Parcells continually motivates his players. The unanswerable question at this moment in time is how will Owens react to this kind of coaching? We'll know later this year, but it is instructive to note that the "soft" approach hasn't worked with Owens in the past. Parcells is a different kind of coach, one who can constantly dig at his star players because of his two Super Bowl wins and legendary status in the NFL. Steve Mariucci and Andy Reid might be really good coaches, but neither commands the respect that Parcells brings to the table. Here's Bradley on the previous coaches:

Neither of Owens' previous coaches -- the 49ers' Steve Mariucci and the Eagles' Andy Reid -- is anything like Parcells, who keeps pushing until he's certain players can be trusted in the most stressful on-field circumstances. Mariucci was too nice. Reid tried to let his players defuse problems, and that didn't work. Parcells simply won't tolerate any behavior that compromises his team. Never has and -- at a cantankerous 64 -- probably never will.

Bill Parcells told us that he has already talked to Owens about what is expected of him in Dallas. Parcells doesn't treat every player the same, no coach really does. So Parcells has given Owens time off from the voluntary workout program, when surely in the past requests like that from other players have been turned down by the Tuna. Is he already working his voodoo on Owens? Is this part of the "give" before Parcells begins the "take" in training camp? True to Parcells word, Owens has shown up early for tutoring sessions from WR coach Todd Haley in anticipation of the upcoming mini-camp.

So what did Parcells tell Owens in preparation for their union on the field in Dallas?

"I told him what I expected of him," Parcells said. "Sometimes, when a player's new and he doesn't know you, you're going to have to reinforce that as you go. But as I say, I'm not approaching this with the idea that it's going to be adversarial or that I'm going to be mandating every little thing that this player does. I don't do that with any player.

"I tell him, 'Be on time, pay attention, be in condition and play hard in the games.' That's the rule. And stay out of trouble in terms of issues that are in the community or with women or strip clubs. I tell them all that."

There it is, the Parcells Manifesto. Seems pretty straightforward, until you read a little more closely. The part about how he might have to "reinforce that as you go?" It's a euphemism for I'm going to ride your ass until you do it my way -- every time.

The Oakland Raiders may be the traditional home for troubled NFL players who need a new start. But if Bill Parcells can work his magic on Terrell Owens, then anywhere the Tuna has coached should be the home address for wayward players.

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