NFL to say if Parcells can go Patriots owner, coach ask Tagliabue to rule in contract dispute


NEW ORLEANS -- In the next chapter in the Bill Parcells-Bob Kraft soap opera, commissioner Paul Tagliabue will get involved today.

Tagliabue, for many years the league's chief counsel, will hold a conference call today with both parties and then rule tomorrow or Thursday on whether Parcells is free of his contract with the New England Patriots and can become coach of the New York Jets.

"Both Bill and Bob asked me to get involved," said Tagliabue, who said the Patriots coach made the first contact 12 days ago, on the Thursday after the Patriots beat Jacksonville in the AFC title game. "They both said they wanted to get this resolved quickly."

Parcells contends he's free to leave because he chopped a final year off the contract. Kraft, the Patriots' owner, contends he retained an option for Parcells' coaching services, so he can't leave unless Kraft gets compensation.

He's believed to be interested in the first pick in the draft from the Jets.

In 1970, the Baltimore Colts got a first-round pick from Miami when coach Don Shula left the Colts for the Dolphins. The Colts said the Dolphins had tampered with him because he was under contract.

This is a slightly different situation, because it's a contract dispute, not a tampering charge.

But it's obvious the Jets are waiting on Parcells, because they haven't interviewed any other candidates since firing Rich Kotite.

This is the third straight time Parcells has left or tried to leave a team after going to the Super Bowl.

In 1987, he tried to go to the Atlanta Falcons after coaching the Giants to a championship, but commissioner Pete Rozelle blocked the move because he was under contract to New York.

He quit the Giants in May 1991, after winning the Super Bowl, and spent two years in television before signing with the Patriots.

When Parcells signed a five-year deal with James Orthwein, then the Patriots' owner, Orthwein included a clause requiring Parcells to pay a penalty if he didn't coach all five years.

Kraft lifted the penalty clause last year, and Parcells apparently interpreted it as meaning he's free to leave. Kraft disputes that interpretation.

Neither Parcells nor Kraft would publicly address the issue after the Patriots lost Super Bowl XXXI to Green Bay Sunday night.

The decision by Tagliabue to intervene, said a league official, was disclosed in faxes sent Sunday evening to Kraft and Robert Fraley, the agent for Parcells, according to a league official.

"It was not done until after the game," said the official.

The Patriots' motorcade -- seven police motorcycles, two stretch limousines and four buses -- left for the New Orleans airport late yesterday morning without Parcells.

He reportedly did not leave New Orleans on the team charter flight but said he would be in New England today.

Pub Date: 1/28/97

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