Parcells, Sexton & Associates?

OXNARD, Calif. - There is the cumstonary way to become a Dallas Cowboys player. Be belessed with the athletic gifts of a comic-book superhero, demonstrate in your work habits the devotion of a monk, and pray that Serendipity smiles upon you.

Or, you can be a Jimmy Sexton client.

OK, OK, it's not that easy. But the cozy relationship that exists between highly-regarded coach Bill Parcells and the man who just happens to be his agent, the highly-regarded Sexton, will raise eyebrows when I rattle off the names of some other Sexton clients.

Here goes:
Jason Ferguson.
Marco Rivera.
Aaron Glenn.
Bradie James.
Jason Witten.
Marcus Spears.
Those fellas, you will undoubtedly notice, are not just in business with the Memphis-based Sexton; they are also in business with Parcells' Cowboys.

It's a handy relationship, to say the least. Is it also a recruiting tool? A smoke-filled-room negotiating edge? Does it increase the likelihood of the coach adding "Parcells Guys''? If you are a "Sexton Guy,'' do you automatically qualify to be in Bill's club, too? Does it shrink the fishing net of prospects in the sense that Sexton could be steering the Cowboys to his clientele? Does it persuade players who are represented by Sexton to sign more quickly and more agreeably? Is it one of the reasons that while around a dozen or so first-rounders have yet to be signed by their NFL employers, Dallas' contract headaches were brief?

Is it entirely ethical?

Sexton is no slimeball. He's been among the best in the business for over 20 years. He used to be the go-to guy for prospects in his region, which is why the late Reggie White chose him. Now he's a go-to- guy nationally, and in multiple sports. Scottie Pippen used him. QB Phillip Rivers uses him now.

Jimmy's partner at ARM, his firm? Kyle Rote Jr. Remember him? First American-born soccer standout? ABC's "Superstars''? Son of a legendarily good-guy NFL'er? Clean-cut stuff.

Another thing about Sexton: contracts in the coaching profession almost don't happen without his say-so. In the college ranks, he's handled business for Tommy Tuberville, Steve Superior, Houston Nutt and Phillip Fulmer. At the pro level, he's represented Mike Tice, Jim Haslett, Nick Saban. ... and Parcells.

Talk about your "Six Degrees of Separation''! If Parcells wants the inside dirt on a player from the Dolphins, Vikings or Saints, or from Auburn, South Carolina, Arkansas or Tennessee, he can simply phone the agent for the coach from that team and get it straight. ... because they're all in it together!

How extensive is the octopussian reach of "Parcells, Sexton & Associates''? Let's play "Six Degrees of Separation'' with Dallas' '05 Draft:

First-rounder Marcus Spears? Played for Sexton client Saban at LSU, represented by Sexton, who represents Parcells.

Second-rounder Kevin Burnett? Played for Sexton client Fulmer at Tennessee.

Fourth-rounder Chris Canty? Played for Parcellls former assistant Al Groh at Virginia.

Sixth-rounder Rob Petitti? Grew up in New Jersey, proud fatherland of Parcells.

Seventh-rounder Jay Ratliff? Played for Sexton client Tuberville at Auburn.

Wow, that wasn't a draft. ... that was a FEEDER PROGRAM!

With all the branches on this familial tree, it's difficult for the cynical eyebrow to remain unraised. It is notable that in one free-agent spring Dallas would snap up Rivera, Ferguson and Glenn -- and that they would just happen to be Sexton Guys. And that coming after a draft that just happened to feature Witten and James (Sexton Guys). And then there was that 2005 emergency signing of Chad Eaton (Sexton again). And the repeated chances given Tony Dixon (yup, Sexton). And then the drafting of Spears (Sexton) and four other guys with "connections.''

The Pete Hunter-for-Ray Mickens trade didn't quite go down that way, but in retrospect it made some sense. ... inasmuch as Mickens' agent is. ... yes, Jimmy Sexton.

Small world, ain't it?

One agent friend of mine suggests that Parcells is indeed more likely to sign a Sexton client than one of his guys, and that "Parcells' perspective isn't wide enough. ... if you are a Sexton client, you have an inside track.''

To NBA watchers, the arrangement seems downright incestuous. Did you know that in pro basketball, a coach is prohibited from being represented in contract by an agent who also does player contracts? That's why, right down the street from the Cowboys, the NBA's Dallas Mavericks experienced a bit of a delay in a new contract for coach Avery Johnson; the agent who repped him during his playing days was ineligible to do his coaching-days contract.

I spoke to Cowboys VP Stephen Jones about all this. As the point man in many contract negotiations, he is uniquely qualified to see many sides to the issue.

"I don't think it's an advantage or disadvantage,'' Jones says. "The fact that coach Parcells is connected to so many people in football, the fact that Jimmy Sexton is connected to so many people, is a coincidence. We gather information wherever we can get it, so the connections are helpful. But we try to have that sort of relationship with all agents, all college coaches, all players.''

As a Cowboys fan, it is hoped that great players are indeed funneled through Sexton's portfolio and into Parcell's huddle -- even, I guess, if that means Parcells and Sexton are sorta in business together. (I can see the Hair Club For Men-like commercials for Sexton's agency, ads starring The Tuna: "I'm not just the a client; I'm secretly the president of the company!''

And me, as the father of two sons who naturally dream of growing up to play for the Cowboys?

I'm going to hope they are blessed with the aforementioned superheroic athleticism, the monk-like devotion, and the great good luck.

And then, as a bit of additional insurance, I'm going to hire Jimmy Sexton to be their agent.

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