Parcells' Mole is ... Parcells?

IRVING, TX. - In the two wildly successful previous incarnations of Cowboys management, access was everything. First came Tex Schramm's willingness to hand out to the media the home phone numbers of his coaches and players.

(To Tex' death, he was easy to reach at home as well). Then came Jerry Jones' willingness to let reporters into his life, and the organization's fan-friendly policy of allowing media people to develop relationships with coaches and players. And now we have The Bill Parcells Era. I've ripped Parcells in this space for his mind-numbing, life-sucking obsession with the control of what the media says, and of what his coaches and players say, an obsession that permits coaches to say nothing and obliges players to say little. Cowboys fans have fired back at me, wondering whether my unhappiness about Parcells' control-freakishness is really bitterness on my part.

"Who cares whether Parcells lets anybody else talk?'' a skillion of you have said to me over the years. "This way, there are no leaks in the boat, no moles in the organization, no quotable mistakes, because Parcells does all the talking.'' Ah, but what if Parcells himself -- in his desire to control what is said at Valley Ranch AND in his possible desire to be written up positively by a prestigious journalist in the New York Friggin' Times (no doubt the one newspaper Jersey boy Parcells grew up reading and respecting) -- springs a leak? What if Parcells utters the quotable mistakes?

What if Parcells' ego is his own organizational mole?

You will recall the "humanizing'' profile of Parcells recently published in the haughty New Your Times Magazine. Terrific writer Michael Lewis (author of the groundbreaking baseball book "Moneyball'') was permitted rare access into Parcellsland. His lengthy story detailed everything from how the coach's office is decorated to the size of his apartment to how poorly he sleeps. InfalliBill even allowed Lewis to take notes as the coach studied film of the Redskins.

Now, in previous editions of the Cowboys, a reporter seated next to a Cowboy in a darkened Valley Ranch filmroom would not be considered outrageous. Schramm and Landry and Jones and Johnson all understood that positive relationships with the media can be beneficial, and that a deepened understanding of "what the hell happened on that play'' would aid the writer in directing his criticism (and praise) properly. I can honestly say that I learned much of what I know about football from being guided through film sessions with the likes of Michael Irvin, Dave Wannstedt, Troy Aikman, Butch Davis, Barry Switzer, Jason Garrett, Jay Novacek, Bill Bates, Joe Avezzano, Norv Turner, Darren Woodson and others.

Of course, we had a sort of "deal''; they educated me while also trusting me to filter the information I learned in a way that wouldn't reveal their secrets, damage their reputations or hurt their chances of winning a game.

Bill Parcells apparently forgot to forge such an understanding with Lewis. (Maybe the coach was too giddy to even speak after learning the flattering news that the Times wanted to profile him!) So as the coach is watching Redskins film, Lewis is scribbling notes.

Coach sees the Washington cornerbacks on the screen. He says some nasty things about them. And Lewis writes it down.

Coach sees tackle Jon Jansen on the screen. He says some nasty things about him.

And Lewis writes it down.

And then the New York Times Magazine story comes out. And call me cynical, but I must admit, while many of my colleagues were expressing semi-sympathy due to the "insights'' about Parcells (he doesn't sleep well after losses, blah-blah), I was struck by the stupidity of offering Washington cornerbacks and offensive tackles bulletin-board material -- especially given that the "weak and slow'' Redskins did defeat Parcells' Cowboys earlier this year. "We answered a call from a guy who said some things about me and about our team," Jansen said after Washington's 22-19 win on Sunday.

As per the head coach's rules, there will be no comments this week from Cowboys assistant coaches. As per the head coach's rules, there will be limited comments from Cowboys players. And maybe the head coach needs to make an addendum to his own rules, for his own good: No matter how much your ego wants to be featured in the New York Times, there will be no comments this week from the Cowboys' head coach.

CowboysHQ Top Stories