Bill Parcells has agreed to run the New York Jets for six years in a deal that could net him as much as $20 million. Now the only question is how soon he gets to take control.
Parcells signed his contract Friday even as Commissioner Paul Tagliabue prepared for a meeting next week to sort out what has become the NFL’s biggest soap opera--the contractual squabble involving Parcells, the Jets and his former team, the New England Patriots.
But there was nothing under the table about the deal, which starting next Feb. 1--sooner if the Jets and Patriots work out an agreement--ties Parcells to New York for six years with an option for a seventh.
“I’ve always been a league guy, and I’ll abide by whatever the league says,” Parcells said. “If they say that I can’t do anything for a while, I’m not going to do anything for a while.”
At least four of those six years will be as coach, with the last two as chief operating officer--a title Parcells effectively will have during his coaching tenure.
No terms were disclosed, but Parcells originally was seeking a $10-million, three-year deal. So doubling the length to six years could net him $20 million, more than any other NFL coach.
“I have some very good support here, and I know I’m going to be supported by the ownership totally,” Parcells said. “A coach couldn’t ask for anything else.
“I’m making a commitment to the players here, and I’m making a commitment to the fans.”
But Tagliabue ruled two weeks ago that Parcells could not coach or hold any “comparable position” with a team other than the Patriots for 1997.
When the Jets announced Tuesday that Parcells would be a consultant next year while Bill Belichick coaches, Patriot owner Robert Kraft called it “a transparent farce.”
League sources say Tagliabue will probably press for a settlement of the dispute by getting the Jets and Patriots to agree on compensation in the form of players, draft choices or both.
That would allow Parcells to coach next season and make Belichick, who coached the Cleveland Browns from 1991-95, assistant head coach, and, presumably, defensive coordinator, the job he held under Parcells with the Giants.
"[Parcells] does not currently have any obligation to coach for the Patriots,” Tagliabue said Thursday. “But he understands that he has given them an option. If he didn’t want to exercise that option, then he would have to refrain from being a head coach or holding a comparable position in 1997.”