Parcells Finally Opening Up

After speaking publicly just twice in his first 11 weeks on the job, newly hired Cowboys coach Bill Parcells made it two in two days. An hour-long media session at the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix on March 26 was followed by an appearance the next day at a luncheon benefiting the Austin Street Centre, a homeless shelter.

Parcells received the third Pat Summerall Humble Beginnings Award, and shared some thoughts on his mission with the Cowboys, the upcoming NFL draft and his "real" name.

First, he made a promise that he would try to be an integral part of the community and not just the Cowboys coach.

"I will be someone who gives something to the community," Parcells said.

He also pledged to the fans and former Cowboys that he will restore the "Cowboys to a place of prominence and work tirelessly to get this marquee franchise where it belongs."

Parcells looks at the draft as an opportunity for the Cowboys to take a step in that direction. The Cowboys have the fifth overall pick in the April draft. Parcells said they have already received trade overtures from other teams but said, "I don't know if we will do that. I know if we keep the pick, we should get a player that will make a pretty good impact."

Parcells also reiterated that the quarterback position remains unsettled. He said Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson were put in difficult situations last year and it's hard to evaluate a quarterback under duress.

What Parcells is certain about is that "we will see where we are at quarterback and if we need someone else, we will go get them."

Backing up the notion that Parcells is a man who will make changes if he's unhappy is the story surrounding his name.

He acknowledged Thursday that his real name is Duane Charles Parcells, not Bill.

The change dates to the third grade when "the teacher said, 'Duane Parcells, is she here?'" Parcells said. "I knew then that I didn't want Duane anymore and I wanted to get it changed. When I was 12, I moved to another community. There was another young man that moved to the town at the same time named Bill. They used to get us mixed up, so I took that moniker."

He has been Bill ever since.

-- Emmitt Smith isn't carrying just the ball anymore. He now also is carrying a team and a city.

Smith, who spent his first 13 seasons with the Cowboys, was introduced by the Arizona Cardinals on March 27. While about 25 fans, some of them dressed in Smith's familiar No. 22 Cowboys jersey, waited outside the complex to greet Smith, he was holding a news conference in a packed auditorium that frequently broke into cheers.

Even the man he is replacing, Marcel Shipp, was there to welcome Smith.

"It's nice to be in a situation where you're truly wanted," said Smith, who wore a bright red tie.

The Cardinals rolled out the red carpet for Smith. They gave him a big contract, his No. 22 jersey and the starting job. It was more than any other team offered and more than enough for Smith to move his family to Phoenix.

"There's still so much that I feel I can accomplish," Smith said. "I think my goal here is to help this team get back to the playoffs. To me, anything is possible. My drive is to do that, not only for this community and this team, but also for me."

In return for the two-year deal that will pay him between $7 million and $8 million, Smith will have marketing obligations. His business manager, Werner Scott, said Smith would make appearances "for the best benefit of the community."

Smith is the biggest thing to hit town since the team moved from St. Louis for the 1988 season. The Cardinals were 5-11 and averaged 40,909 fans at home last season.

"It shows we're trying to get things turned around here and we want to get on the right foot, and what better way than to bring in the all-time leading rusher," Shipp said. "He can teach everybody about winning and having the heart that we need."

Smith, 33, rushed for 17,162 yards for the Cowboys, passing Walter Payton as the NFL's all-time leading rusher Oct. 27 against Seattle. Smith, who would have counted $9.8 million against the Cowboys' 2003 salary cap, was released Feb. 27.

He said retirement was never an option, although the Cardinals were the only team committed to having Smith as a starter.

"I still love the game, and I still know that I can play," Smith said. "I am thankful that this organization saw some of the things I was able to do and believed in me, giving me the opportunity to show that to the world."

The Cardinals will host the Cowboys in their first exhibition game and will travel to Dallas during the regular season. Asked if he was ready to show the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL that he still is a "1,200- to 1,300-yard back," Smith broke into a wide smile.

"That's about all I can say," he said

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