How Long Will Parcells Stay?

It's a simple question, and it certainly has to be on the mind of every Cowboys fan in the country.

It's very clear to me Jerry Jones has provided Bill Parcells all the necessary rope to hang himself. That is, if he so chooses to take the plunge.

Simply put, a coach couldn't ask for anything more. He has full reign over roster and coaching staff decisions. He calls the plays. And as evidenced by this year's free agency flurry, he has access to his owner's wallet.

In marksmen terms, the chamber is full. As it should be, it's now up to Big Bill.

So what will he do? What is he thinking? What does year three of his organizational tenure have in store?

Nobody knows for sure.

But why?

Because Bill Parcells does not want you to know. It's vintage New Jersey. No offense meant by the statement, but those with roots know where I'm coming from. Everything played close to the vest. No weaknesses revealed. Keep'em guessing at every turn. When probed, expect evasiveness or downright refusal.

I'm reminded of the vintage line sewn into the fabric of the classic Caddy Shack. "You will get nothing…..and like it." This is the Bill Parcells' personae. As they say, some things never change.

But is it calculating or childish?

A strong defense could be made for both.

In addition, where does this leave loyal Cowboys' fans in assessing Parcells' future? Most likely scratching the locks darning one's cranium.

We've all met the kid who threatened to take his ball and go home. Don't you get the feeling, at any second, Parcells has the ability to remove the whistle from around his neck and just walk?

Some, to include the likes of Pat Summerall, would have you believe Big Bill was destined for home following the 2004 campaign. "I think he seriously considered leaving the coaching ranks," said the retired broadcaster this offseason.

Of course, Parcells finally countered the speculation later on stating, "I'm not quitting. No. I really didn't. I was a little down and out. You know, it's a funny thing. When the bar is high—and the bar is high for me—you can't [quit]."

The Parcells' archives, prior to last year's debacle, screamed second-year success. In three previous NFL venues, Parcells produced a granite-like, combined 31-17 record in year two. Coming off an inaugural 10-6 campaign in 2003, the masses expected the second year of success tradition to continue.

But it didn't happen.

As the 2004 season progressed, we watched for the signs. Stubbornness prevailed. Testaverde continued to receive the call when the faithful were calling for a futuristic look to Henson or Romo. Parcells continued to dig in and in his words, "give his team the best chance to win."

So when the final gun sounded in the Meadowlands, the question had to be raised.

Would he stay or would he go?

He stayed, and the watchful eye sees perhaps more invigoration than ever before.

Two first-round draft choices, a revamped defense, a new defensive scheme which netted two Super Bowls in year's past, a potential gem in Julius Jones, dedicated foot soldiers, a conglomerate of former, loyal players, and an owner who believes and also provides.

Why wouldn't you have a bounce in your step heading to training camp in Oxnard?

On the other hand, every true fan in Cowboys land wonders, 'how long will it last?' What happens if there are early struggles?

There are certainly challenges on the horizon.

You have rookies who will start. Mistakes will be made in the 3-4 due to its newness. Bledsoe must be protected and does he have the intestinal fortitude to see this thing through? Will the entire contract be honored? Will it be extended? All questions to be answered and played out in the months ahead.

I don't know about you, but the microscope is squarely on Bill Parcells heading into this season. It most certainly is a "show me" season, and the organizational compass better point North at its conclusion.

If not, there's been plenty of rope provided, and Valley Ranch does have trees. So what's it going to be Bill? Are you staying or will you take your ball and go home?

Only time will tell.

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