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Parcells-to-New Orleans isn't just wrong, it's stupid

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
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Bill Parcells last coached with Sean Payton while with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2005. (US Presswire)  
Bill Parcells last coached with Sean Payton while with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2005. (US Presswire)  

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- There are so many things wrong with the Bill Parcells-to-New Orleans rumor I don't know where to start. But let me try.

First of all, reports indicate that Saints' coach Sean Payton spoke with Parcells about having him replace Payton while he serves a one-year suspension, which is OK by league rules but not OK by common sense. I guess that's another way of saying what part of this is New Orleans owner Tom Benson missing?

He should squash this report and squash it now.

I mean, Payton just disgraced your club by incurring one of the worst penalties in NFL history. So now you're going to trust him to name his own replacement? Someone tell me that Benson isn't that stupid, naïve or both. Having Payton make that decision is like trusting Bernie Madoff make your next investment.

It's dumb, dumb, dumb. It's also Benson's call, not Payton's, and if the Saints' owner doesn't know it I suggest he consult the commissioner who just whacked his club.

"It's not my decision," said Roger Goodell. "The Saints are going to have to make that decision. [And] there's only one person who signs the checks."

In case you're wondering, that's you, Tom.

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Second, if the report is accurate what does that tell you about what Payton thinks of his current staff? Not much, that's what. I mean, he had an ideal replacement in offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who called plays last season during and after an injury that sidelined Payton. He also has defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, last year's head coach in St. Louis.

I'm not saying Spagnuolo should be the choice here. In fact, I'm saying he shouldn't. He has no history with the Saints and doesn't know the players. But Carmichael does, and he's a logical successor. Overlooking him for Parcells might ... no, should ... create fissures within the coaching staff, with damaging repercussions.

"He's going to lose that coaching staff," said one league source. "Basically, it shows his coaches that they don't have his support."

Beautiful.

Third, Payton can't just tell the Saints to hire Parcells. He can make a recommendation, which seems clear. But the Saints would have to adhere to the "Rooney Rule" and interview at least one minority candidate before making a decision. If Parcells were to wind up with the job, what would that tell you about how the Saints did business here?

Uh-huh, that the whole thing was a fraud and that the Saints reached a decision the moment Payton hung up with Parcells ... if, in fact the two spoke -- and people tell me they have.

Fourth, Parcells is on the short list for the Hall of Fame, and there's a feeling that sooner or later he's admitted. But if he takes this job ... or any job ... it's later, and I mean way later. As Steve Perry, the Hall of Fame's president and executive director, pointed out Monday, the clock on Parcells would be reset -- meaning he goes to the back of the class, not eligible for induction until five years after his latest return to coaching.

Parcells, who turns 71 in August, reportedly is borderline-obsessed with making the Hall of Fame, and I get that. Football consumed the guy's life, and making the Hall of Fame would be the crowning achievement of an extraordinarily successful career.

But do this, and look what happens. You circumvent coaches on the Saints' staff. You challenge the "Rooney Rule." And you not only postpone your chances of entering the Hall of Fame for at least another five years; you run the risk of permanently damaging your chances.

This isn't just a stupid idea. It's a preposterous one. Here's hoping it goes away, and goes away quickly.

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