Parcells in Firm Control

When Jerry Jones made Bill Parcells the sixth and richest coach in Cowboys history four months ago, it represented a huge philosophical change for the franchise. Parcells, not Jones, is in firm control of the football team.

Just how much so was chronicled in detail during the Cowboys three-day rookie minicamp when the new coach went old school.

All the rookies wore helmets minus the team's recognizable blue star because they "haven't done anything" yet.

First-round pick Terence Newman doesn't have to worry about getting hazed by the veterans because he will be Parcells' prized pledge for the next year. The cornerback who is due to get a signing bonus of roughly $10.5 million fetched water for his coach during breaks in practice.

When an offensive player didn't know the play being run, the entire unit was ordered to run to the far fence and back.

Parcells' old school ways, which now more than ever are the ways of the Cowboys, touched the assembled media as well. Following practice, reporters were not allowed to walk back into the facility through locker room as in the past. They were sent off the practice field through the parking lot before reentering through the loading dock near the trash dump.

All in all it was "fun" weekend for Parcells, who conducted his first official practices since "retiring" from the Jets in 1999.

"I've told Jerry a couple of times that I appreciate the opportunity to come down and try to do something," Parcells, 61, said. "I really mean that. I look forward to try to do a good job for him, the Cowboys fans and the people in Dallas."

It was made plan and clear during the minicamp that Parcells' blueprint for success is relying on the same formula's that helped him win two Super Bowl titles with the Giants and an AFC title with the Patriots.

Asked if it was odd in this day and age to make professional athletes run for making a mistake, Parcells, said "That's the way I do things, it's nothing new."

"The point of it is they need to pay attention and know what's going on," Parcells said. "In team period, every player is not going to get every repetition. It is their job to learn on the repetition they are not getting as well as the one they are. There are only x-number of plays in practice. You have to use that time to learn. (Running to the fence) was just for emphasis. And there are a lot reasons they can go to the fence. ... offside, habitually offside, lack of concentration. It's one die, all die. One individual mistake can cost the team the game. Get used to it, you will see quite a bit of that."

What you will also see a lot of is Newman and center Al Johnson (second round) doing menial jobs for Parcells, whose "we are one" philosophy mandates that top selections not be treated any more special than seventh round picks. To prove his point, he hazes them to teach humility.

"That's Newman's job, to bring me water," Parcells said. "He will have several jobs around here. He's just got to do it for a year then we will have somebody else. Johnson has things to do as well. Both Newman and Johnson will have joint venture on Saturday morning during the season."

Regarding the star on the helmet, Parcells explained "It's the rookies, they are just numbers right now. They have to earn it and will get the star when we play an exhibition game."

Watching Parcells work for the first time was the highlight of the day for Jones, who undoubtedly liked everything he saw from the wind sprints to the hazing to the helmets.

"I was impressed with how practice went," Jones said. "Bill demanded the full concentration with the offense running right off the bat. I liked that. I particularly like that we took the star off the helmet of the rookies. I don't know that there has ever been a Cowboys helmet without a star. The way you get the star back on there is to earn it. It was Bill's idea and I like that. It makes that star that much more important and really makes the emphasis where it should be and the importance of making the 53-man roster."

Jones said the hazing of the top picks "creates an aura of respect and focus and I like that. I expected that."

Jones said Parcells' disciplined ways are far more detailed than when Jimmy Johnson reigned over the Cowboys during the early 1990's with antics like the so-called asthma field. At least after the first day of minicamp, the owner believes more than ever that going backwards with an old school coach might be the best way for a Cowboys team coming off of three consecutive 5-11 campaigns to get back to it's winning ways.

"I think Bill is from the old school," Jones said. "This probably points the emphasis that you can get players to do it the old way. And the old way is a good way. He's won championships doing it that way. And I was pleased with his first practice."

Nothing particularly pleased Parcells on Friday. But that's not unusual. He doesn't expect to be wowed by any player during this three-day minicamp, considering their newness to the NFL and his ways.

"This is just an orientation," Parcells said. "Really that's all it is, an orientation, trying to get them used to our terminology, trying to get them to pay attention. These kids don't really know what's going on and how we are going to do things. We are trying to sell them on that this is going to be a game of strength and endurance and if they don't have it, they will get washed away. They have get ready for a heavyweight fight."

The first camp, at least, was a Parcells knockout.

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