When Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga hired Bill Parcells to run his football team, the expectation was that the team would become big, tough and disciplined.
Nobody was expecting stupid.
That's what the Miami fan base got Wednesday when coach Tony Sparano, Parcells' selection for the job, essentially called out Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor. Sparano escalated the growing feud between the team and Taylor by essentially calling out Taylor for not being part of offseason workouts and saying that Taylor wouldn't be with the team in training camp.
"This is my reaction with the Jason Taylor situation," Sparano said. "I'm going to answer this question one time. I'm not going to answer another question about the Jason Taylor situation after I answer this. Here is what I know. I'm glad we know this and we've gotten the information. That's important.
"I know that Jason is not going to be at any (offseason workouts), know that Jason is not going to be at any minicamps, and I know that, right now, Jason is not going to be at training camp. So that's what we know. Jason is a player under contract with the Miami Dolphins. He knows that. Both parties are well aware of the information. That is all I am going to say about it. I am going to talk about our players now. I am not going to talk about another thing about Jason. I am not going to talk about another thing.
"What I just told you is what I know. It's what we know, and that being said, we need to discuss the current players on our team right now that have been busting their butt for nine weeks here."
While all of that may come off as strong and aggressive to some people, it's really stupid.
Why? Whether the Dolphins want to have Taylor play for them this season (which they apparently don't) or whether they want to trade Taylor, what Sparano said helps neither cause.
First, if they somehow want Taylor around (again, that seems impossible to believe at this point), what Sparano said only alienates the Dolphins from their best player. Second, if the Dolphins want to trade Taylor, they have only decreased his value by making it appear they don't want him.
Sure, some people will argue Sparano's statements make it clear who is in charge to the rest of the team. That sounds macho, but it's really shortsighted.
The task for Parcells, Sparano and Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland (another Parcells protégé) was to get Taylor to play or to get as much as possible for him in a trade. As recently as two weeks ago, one source said that at least one team interested in trading for Taylor believed that Parcells simply would cut Taylor.
As absurd as that sounds (heck, Tennessee got a conditional fourth-round pick for Pacman Jones), Sparano's comments only feed that perception. Instead of offering more, teams now are likely to offer less.
Furthermore, taking on Taylor really is pretty silly. Sure, Taylor has been thumbing his nose at the Dolphins the past couple of days. He finished second in “Dancing With The Stars” on Tuesday and then took a redeye to New York to appear on “Live with Regis and Kelly” on Wednesday morning instead of returning to offseason workouts with the Dolphins.
As much as some people may think that's wrong, it is Taylor's right to do that. With the exception of an offseason minicamp, offseason workouts are voluntary. In addition, Taylor has earned this right. This is a guy who never has been out of shape in his career. He has played hard and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.
Off the field, Taylor has been everything that Huizenga has asked of players. His Jason Taylor Foundation runs a program that helps teach kids to read. Last season, Taylor was named the NFL Man of the Year for his charity work.
In short, Taylor has more than held up his end of the bargain as a member of the Dolphins.
Yes, he wants out right now. But at 33, after having missed the playoffs for the past six years and facing another rebuilding project (Parcells and Sparano are kidding themselves if they think any of the quarterbacks on the roster are going to lead them to the playoffs in the next two years), Taylor isn't asking for something completely unfair. In fact, last month Huizenga said he thought Taylor deserved a chance to chase a title elsewhere if the Dolphins can't make it happen.
Finally, to Taylor's credit, he hasn't even said such words himself. He never has acted like Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens, trashing a franchise as he tried to get out. Taylor has tried to exit quietly rather than acting like some spoiled idiot.
Instead, Sparano did the job for him.
- Bill Parcells