In fairness, the idea of bringing Parcells out of mothballs isn't really all that outlandish as New Orleans tries to deal with Payton's one-year suspension as a result of the team's bounty-program scandal. At 70, Parcells, who had Payton on his staff with the Dallas Cowboys, has forgotten more about football than most people have ever learned.
[ Dan Wetzel: Tim Tebow uncomfortable with Jets introductory media session ]
The problem at this point is that Parcells, who has spoken to Payton about how to handle the 2012 season but denies he's had a discussion about serving as the interim coach, isn't so much a coach as he is a caricature. He's the great ex-coach with the ability to keep his legacy alive so that people will kiss his ring out of respect.
When you talk to the people who were around Parcells during his stint with the Dolphins, you hear that theme again and again. Parcells worked, but only to a certain extent. He didn't want to do the serious grinding required to actually finish the job.
Parcells wanted to put a stamp on the Dolphins, but he didn't want to build the engraving plates. He quit a year early when the job started to get tough because the team had failed to pick the right quarterback.
This is the guy who is supposed to come in and guide a potential Super Bowl team through one of the roughest controversies in NFL history? This is the guy who is supposed to discipline players who he doesn't know and with whom he's never going to develop a great relationship? This is the coach that players are supposed to respect and honor?
Parcells is going to be little more than a substitute teacher, and we all know how seriously that position is respected.
Or judge it by this reaction from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft when told about the speculation of Parcells possibly coaching the Saints: "You're kidding, right?"
To be fair, Kraft was more shocked than amused. He also went on to say that Parcells would probably do a terrific job and was generally complimentary of the idea. He was more than simply diplomatic.
That still doesn't make it a good idea.
Coaching in football isn't that far removed from playing in terms of dedication. You can't be a short-timer in that job and expect players to respond. You can't be a pure outsider and hold the interest of those involved.
This idea is like putting a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage. The Saints would be far better off promoting from within and banding together than bringing someone from outside.
And yes, as stated before, the in-house candidates, ranging from offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, aren't great options. That's completely fair. But they are better than Parcells. They are truly "family" in the very football sense of the word.
"I see what Sean is trying to do, but I think it's a mistake," an NFC team executive said. "… You're talking about the ultimate figurehead situation."
Though Parcells has shot down reports about the job, don't expect the rumors to go away. He has a history of being linked to jobs even after he's denied having any interest.
Even more, there is incentive for Parcells to return to the sidelines. For instance, he could become the first coach to ever lead three different teams to the Super Bowl. He could take one more shot to become the first to ever win it with two different teams.
That's well and good, but if that really mattered to Parcells, he could have easily coached somewhere else over the past five years since leaving Dallas. He could have had the Miami coaching job if that really mattered.
It doesn't. At this point, Parcells is collecting checks and living off his past accomplishments. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a good life and he deserves it. Parcells was a great football man and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame (although a return to the sidelines would delay that).
But the fact is that once you quit in this job, you're pretty much done, particularly as the demands of the role have continued to increase. Can you reasonably expect that Parcells is going to grind it out until 2 a.m. some nights when the rest of the coaches are working on the game plan? Can you expect him to discipline some player who needs serious work?
[ Related: Sean Payton might be allowed to coach during appeal ]
On top of all this, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Saints will have to abide by the Rooney rule and interview a minority candidate if they hire someone from outside the team. Not that it can't be done but suddenly the search process is going to become more and more of a farce, and that's not exactly what the Saints need right now.
As the Saints deal with all of this, they need to remember a bit of their own history because they have already gone through this act once before. They hired Mike Ditka in 1997. In three seasons, Ditka went 15-33, made a fool of himself by trading his entire draft for Ricky Williams in 1999 and did little more than affirm his caricature status.
On the good side, at least Ditka was funny.
Fast forward to today and you have Parcells, who is at least a little more serious about this stuff.
But not serious enough. Parcells may sound like a great idea, in theory.
Only in theory.
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- Bill Parcells
- Sean Payton