Motivation No Problem in San Antonio

The last six months in the life of the Dallas Cowboys has been like a slice of history. Almost as secretive as the Manhattan Project, Bill Parcells and his mad scientists have toiled in obscurity and behind closed doors. Like the boys that created The Bomb, press conferences are about as frequent as Haley's comet.

So today's press conference was like a sweet rain on the parched earth for the Cowboy faithful. Bill Parcells opened up after the first of two practices on Saturday, and answered questions for about twenty minutes to a press that has been as welcome at the Ranch as an out of work brother-in-law is at a family picnic.

There is a difference about this team compared to last year. The swagger hasn't returned like in the glory days. But there is a purpose and focus that has been missing here since the days of time clocks and the belly dive executed to disco music under a dome.

No player on this roster is safe from the gaze of Parcells and he made that clear in his comments. When discussing Darren Woodson, the pro-bowl safety, he said," I told Darren Woodson, no matter if you are the youngest or the oldest, you still have to show me you can do it."

Yet the venerable Woodson will have to show he can endure the rigors of two-a-days and make major contributions far less than a Torrin Tucker who is fighting for a spot on the offensive line as a back up. The young players don't have ten-year careers to hold up as proof they can play at this level. But no job is truly safe and Parcells has indicated he wants results regardless of signing bonus, draft status, or years of service.

The major controversy is the quarterback issue and who will start. Parcells addressed this by saying he just doesn't know at this point. "We will try to create an environment where they are successful. I don't think this will be smooth for any of the QB's. Each fumbled the ball three times this morning. That isn't a quarterback but it's also not, not a quarterback…I don't have enough information at this point."

This issue of the Alamo Dome came up and Parcells was quick to remind the press this air-conditioned environment is not new. "My first year at the Jets we practices in doors because of the weather. Of the first 13 practices, 7 were indoors."

One of the failings of the last administration was their inability to make sound decisions during games. Parcells is of the thinking that circumstances need to be rehearsed to attain the desired results. Twice in practice he stopped drills to discuss the goal of the exercise. Both times with specific targets for the team to work toward, he was teaching as much as he was coaching.

"When I was with New England, we practiced this play for four years but never used it. Then in a playoff game we were on the 39-yard line with about 17 seconds left. We called the play, which was an out to a receiver. He stepped out of bounds. This was right before the half. Instead of going in ahead by 7, we went in ahead by 10."

But practicing every eventuality is not the only tool he uses to motivate. Fear is another implement in his bag-of-tricks that gets the most out of the players. Joey Galloway voiced his concern when he stated he didn't want to be called out by Parcells. Bill addressed this by commenting, "People say Parcells is a fear guy. I have fear myself. I think it's a great motivator."

But along with fear is a fairness that balances everything out and makes Parcells a likable coach for his team. "I don't pay attention to what people say about players regarding the past." Which means the team starts with a fresh slate. A proven recipe for competition and positive attitudes that should translate on the field.

Show me you're the best and you will start seems to be the yardstick by which everyone is measured these days. A far cry from the machinations of the team's best friend and karaoke buddy, Dave Campo. Something tells me we won't see Parcells belt out a Motown tune during camp this season.

However, regarding Parcells, it's this eye for detail that has fans so excited along with Jerry Jones. Gone are the days when the offensive coordinator tells the head coach he doesn't have a play for every situation.

But this camp is not only about the players doing their best. Parcells requires the same from himself. "I have a fear of failure. Not losing. But not paying attention to the details I know need my attention is what I fear."

Yet winning is not on his list of anxieties. "Sometimes the situations won't let you win. I've been there before."

However, Parcells was brought in to win. Losing was the motivating factor for Jerry Jones, a man who has been accused of having a tremendous ego concerning the team.

"I felt, unquestionably, after that Giant game that I had used up my benefit-of-the-doubt collateral with our fans," Jones said. "I realized since whatever we were doing wasn't working, we needed to change, I needed to change. You asked about my ego. That ego goes away when that fear takes over. When all of a sudden you realize you might be chipping away to some degree at something special, then ego becomes trite."

Jones has come a long way from the nervous fumblings of the post-Jimmy era to this first day of the Parcells' era. The time when Jerry was the focal point of all press conferences has given way to a real football man in charge. Someone who has been to the mountaintop and seen the Burning Bush first hand as a coach.

These first baby steps for this franchise under the watchful guidance of Parcells will be as painful as they will be pleasurable. But even the casual observer will note the change of attitude within the coaching staff who are now truly results-oriented.

The team will still be as cryptic about what their intentions are as they have over the last half year. As chatty as Parcells gets at times, he is calculated and doesn't let slip anything he doesn't wish the press to know.

"I gather information and don't see it as my job to tell everything I know."

While secrecy is the hallmark of a Parcells' team. You can bet the other 31 teams are waiting for the mad scientist to unveil his arsenal. And keep a wary eye toward the heavens for falling objects marked Dallas Cowboys.

CowboysHQ Top Stories