Dallas coach Bill Parcells has made it clear he's tired of talking about when Drew Henson will make his NFL debut by lining up under center for the Cowboys. But a new topic was brought up this week about which he's even less excited to engage in any serious discussion: whether or not he'll return to coach the Cowboys in 2005.
Speculation has been building that the second-year coach might leave the Cowboys after this season, having realized that his team has less speed (and talent) than last year's record indicated. ESPN analyst Steve Young went so far as to offer to bet everyone on the set of the network's pregame show Sunday morning that Parcells would not return for the 2005 season.
When asked how this year's performance would affect his decision to coach beyond this season, Parcells appeared unable to believe the question was even asked.
"I'm not talking about next year -- that's a ridiculous question," he said. "See how early I get here in the morning, and you'll find out how committed I am (to the 2004 team)."
His players, including some of those who have played with him before joining the Cowboys, said they didn't have any idea what their coach plans to do after this season, but they recognized that the team's 3-6 record has been tough on Parcells.
"That's all speculation," running back Richie Anderson said when asked about the questions surrounding Parcells' future. "I know he's a competitor. But I can't speculate on how the way we've played will factor in his decision.
"I can speculate, but I might be way off. I know he takes it tough. He's a winner, and he's not taking this great."
Anderson added that use of injuries (to players like Julius Jones, Darren Woodson and Terry Glenn) as an explanation for the team's performance doesn't carry much weight, since injuries are a way of life in the NFL.
"I don't think we're the only team experiencing injuries," Anderson said. "That's why you have other guys who have to step up."
Quarterback Vinny Testaverde said that not only does he not know what the future holds for Parcells, he said it's fruitless to even speculate.
"He's frustrated, like all of us are," Testaverde said. "But he's pretty resilient."
But toughness aside, Testaverde said he learned long ago that reading Parcells' mind is difficult, if not impossible.
"Only he knows that," Testaverde said when asked about what Parcells might do after this season. "I don't see that (Parcells stepping down) happening. One thing I've learned over the years is that nobody can figure him out, so I don't waste my time with that. And I don't think you (media) guys should waste your time on that, either."
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