Job Not Complete

Bill Parcells is under contract for two more years. The retirement talk has been over for quite some time. However, one question remains.

Did Parcells hold Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hostage for a fat raise with his retirement talk?

The result seems obvious.

After an emotional season in which the Cowboys ruined a 7-3 start with losses in four of their last six games to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs, Parcells certainly had some things to think about.

Add in the deaths of his brother Don and longtime Giants owner Wellington Mara, a close friend, and it's understandable that Parcells would consider his own mortality.

But if truth be told, Parcells never gave an indication to anyone close to him that he would consider walking away.

He certainly didn't look or act like a coach considering retirement in the days following the Cowboys' season-ending loss to the Rams.

Following the embarrassing defeat, he cursed the players out for playing so poorly and told them he would fine them if they missed the season-ending physicals set for next day at 8 a.m.

For the next four days, Parcells conducted staff and personnel meetings to evaluate what went wrong and to prepare for 2006.

He did all this while he was supposedly contemplating retirement, because, as Parcells said himself, he needed to get away to think about some things.

But he never got away from the Cowboys' facility. And he never got a chance to get away from the Cowboys, as Jones did what he had to do.

The owner tore up the original contract Parcells signed with the Cowboys back in 2003, including the final year in 2006 at $4.25 million.

He gave Parcells a new two-year deal for 2006 and 2007, worth roughly $11 million dollars.

Parcells now joins Washington's Joe Gibbs as the only coaches in the NFL making more than $5 million per season.

"This is about continuity and building upon the pieces we have in place as an organization and as a football team," Jones said. "We aren't where we want to be at this point, but we're definitely moving in the right direction and feel very good about the future.

"As I have said for the past three years, I am encouraged by Bill's enthusiasm and determination, and that hasn't changed in any way. From a personal perspective, I have enjoyed every aspect of our working relationship, and I am optimistic about the organization's future."

Parcells is known as a rebuilder, but in his current post, he is behind notable and not-so-notable names like Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio, Carolina's John Fox, New York's Tom Coughlin, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis and Chicago's Lovie Smith in rebuilding the team.

Those coaches, who were hired either the same year as Parcells or the year after, all made the playoffs this season. Parcells still has work to do in Dallas. He came to the Cowboys in 2003 to put the luster back in a fading franchise, which had gone 15-33 the previous three years under Dave Campo.

Parcells had immediate success in 2003, finishing 10-6 and taking the Cowboys to the playoffs as a wild card. After falling to 6-10 in 2004, Parcells admitted being embarrassed and disillusioned, causing questions about whether he would step down.

Parcells returned with a fervor in 2005, getting himself in shape to have more energy for the season. He also remade the Cowboys roster, spending more than $32 million on free agents. Add in a strong draft class, led first-round picks DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, and the Cowboys felt they were ready to make a playoff run.

But after sitting atop the NFC East with a 7-3 start, the Cowboys faded down the stretch, to miss the playoffs for the second time under Parcells and the fifth times in the last six years. The Cowboys still have only been to the playoffs four times since their last Super Bowl title after the 1995 season. They have won only one playoff game since then, and that was following the 1996 season, with Barry Switzer still the coach.

Parcells, winner of two Super Bowl titles with the Giants, said the team is better than when he arrived. But he also knows the job is not complete.

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