At last, it's coronation or conquest At last, wise to draw lineon Parcells; SUPER BOWL XXXI


NEW ORLEANS -- Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, wants to win football games and be happy.

That's pretty much impossible with Bill Parcells as his coach.

As long as the demanding, perpetually dissatisfied Parcells is coaching the Patriots, Kraft must choose between wins and happiness.

He apparently has chosen happiness, which is why Parcells is expected to walk away from the Patriots soon after they play the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl tonight at the Superdome.

Bully for Kraft.

As much as it makes no sense to let one of the game's best coaches quit after a Super Bowl season to become coach of the New York Jets, Kraft isn't wrong.

In fact, Kraft really doesn't have a choice.

Keeping Parcells happy is impossible.

And granting Parcells' wish of complete control over the football operation would be a mistake.

Jets owner Leon Hess is willing to give Parcells such control, and also a raise.

That's what Parcells wants: All the control, all the credit for winning, and a lot of money. That's all.

Hess is willing to make that dream a reality because the Jets are a laughingstock in need of legitimacy.

But you can be sure Parcells still will find fault with the job.

He is a classic "grass is greener elsewhere" guy, never satisfied with his own lot, no matter how bountiful. Consider:

He backed out of his first NFL job, as a New York Giants assistant, only to return to the team a year later.

He flirted with the Falcons after winning his first Super Bowl with the Giants, only to have then-commissioner Pete Rozelle order him to honor his contract with New York.

He walked out on the Giants three months after winning his second Super Bowl in the 1990 season, supposedly because of his health, but mainly because general manager George Young made the personnel decisions and shared the credit.

He came so close to signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before backing out in 1992 that jilted owner Hugh Culverhouse claimed to be "left at the altar."

For those scoring at home, Parcells' current dalliance with the Jets makes him a perfect 3-for-3 in threatening to leave after taking a team to the Super Bowl. Talk about a track record.

This time, he succeeded in making his ever-present career crisis the focal point of the entire Super Bowl when his agent leaked a story Monday about his intention to leave.

Who needs it?

Kraft obviously would love to keep him, as would any owner who wants to win, but Parcells is afflicted with a colossal ego, a bad case of wanderlust and an unyielding desire for power.

That's a high-maintenance package, more trouble than Kraft wants. Can you blame him?

Actually, former Pats owner James Orthwein came close to satisfying Parcells four years ago by offering more control over personnel than Parcells had with the Giants. Parcells thought he had found his dream job.

Then Kraft bought the team from Orthwein and soon took away Parcells' influence in personnel. Was Kraft wrong? Hardly. Parcells' record in personnel isn't nearly as strong as his record as a coach.

With the Giants, he didn't want to draft David Meggett, then threatened to cut Meggett in camp. Young intervened and Meggett has gone on to have a superb career.

He also wanted to draft a linebacker in the first round in 1990 instead of running back Rodney Hampton. The linebacker he wanted went elsewhere and became a journeyman. Hampton had five straight 1,000-yard seasons for the Giants.

Last year, Parcells again wanted to draft defensive help in the first round, this time instead of receiver Terry Glenn. Pats personnel director Bobby Grier intervened, and Glenn was drafted and caught 90 passes as a rookie.

Parcells is a huge coaching talent, maybe even a Hall of Famer, the only reason the Pats have any chance at upsetting the favored Packers.

But as a personnel guy, he is blinded by his desire to find the next Lawrence Taylor.

A defensive-minded coach, he always wants to draft defensive help.

Kraft wasn't wrong to deny him complete control of the Patriots.

If Parcells' ego weren't so huge, he would see that his various personnel bosses have provided him with a lot of talented players.

But he doesn't see it that way.

He compared himself to Don Shula and Tom Landry after he won his first Super Bowl.

He believes his glowing press.

His faith in himself is such that he thinks he can save the pitiful Jets.

Becoming only the second coach in history to take two teams to the Super Bowl apparently wasn't enough gratification for his ego.

Now he wants the greatest gratification of all, remaking the Jets into a winner.

If he does, they'll have to name the Super Bowl trophy after him instead of Vince Lombardi.

And Kraft will get ripped for having let him walk away.

But Kraft either has to hand him the keys to the franchise or hope there is another coach out there who can take a talented young team to the Super Bowl.

Bully for Kraft for not giving in and indulging Parcells; for saying, in essence, that no amount of success is worth the headache of trying to satisfy a coach who can't be satisfied.

Pub Date: 1/26/97

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