Champs face a Giant pile of questions

Pro football

January 29, 1991|By Ken Murray

TAMPA, Fla. -- On the morning after, there was no talk of a New York Giants dynasty. Indeed, three-peat is 12 months from even becoming a possibility again.

As coach Bill Parcells perspired in the hot TV klieg lights yesterday, the questions that begged to be answered were of a more rudimentary nature.

Will Parcells still be the coach next season?

Who is the Giants' starting quarterback when training camp opens?

Will the MVP of Super Bowl XXV still be on the roster then?

Will the Cleveland Browns go after Bill Belichick, the top-gun defensive coordinator who silenced Buffalo's no-huddle offense?

Will the Giants reward scatback David Meggett, who technically is a free agent now, for his yeoman's work in the playoffs after Rodney Hampton broke his leg?

If yesterday's final fling with the Super Bowl media told us anything about Parcells, it is that he faces a critical offseason of decision-making in the Meadowlands. And if this is to be a transitional period for the Super Bowl XXV champs, they are better equipped to deal with those changes than perhaps anyone else.

The key issues confronting the Giants:

* Parcells' status: Despite reports that he may bail out on the Giants for a job in Tampa Bay as general manager and head coach, Parcells did not sound like a guy eager to burn any bridges back to New York.

He said he will address Plan B free agency this week and the scouting combine for college players next week before sitting down to talk with the Giants.

Parcells has one year left on his contract. He has a record of 82-40 over the past seven seasons, including two Super Bowl victories. His options include getting an extension from the Giants or attempting a buyout of the final year.

"The last time we won one of these, I was the center of controversy," Parcells said. "It didn't allow our ownership or the general manager to enjoy victory the way they should have. They're going to enjoy this one."

On reports he is headed to Tampa or into TV, he said, 'Everything written about me is fabrication. There's no basis for any of these rumors."

Was it a Freudian slip or simple courtesy when Parcells concluded his news conference with a message to the media covering the Giants? "You New York guys have been great. See you next year."

* The quarterback: Jeff Hostetler went 5-0 as the starter after Phil Simms suffered a badly sprained ankle. He capped his meteoric ascension with Sunday's 20-19 victory over the Bills. No longer is he unproven.

Whether Parcells installs him as the starter over Simms is another matter. Simms is 35, but quarterbacked the Giants into their winning era. Parcells' loyalty won't allow him to forget that. Hostetler, who will be 30 in April, looked strong, determined and mobile in three playoff games. He threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns -- without an interception -- in the postseason.

Parcells says he doesn't have a quarterback controversy on his hands.

"No, I got two pretty good quarterbacks, not a controversy," he said. "That doesn't mean the quarterback job is wide open."

What it probably means is Hostetler and Simms will compete next summer for the job.

* Ottis Anderson's future: The MVP of Super Bowl XXV was a Plan B free agent each of the last two years. At the age of 33, he expects more of the same this offseason.

"It's kind of traditional for me to be a Plan B," Anderson said shortly before receiving a red Buick Reatta as his MVP reward. "If not, I'd be kind of insulted."

Anderson had no offers either of his two years on Plan B, doesn't expect any, and wants to remain a Giant.

"The MVP trophy doesn't mean a thing to Bill," he said. "It doesn't signify that I'll make the team next year . . . Am I nervous about training camp? Yeah. I know I can be released."

Parcells conducted a Hall of Fame campaign last week for Anderson, who is one of only eight running backs to rush for 10,000 yards.

* Belichick's status: Parcells won't stand in Belichick's way if the Browns want him. Asked if he expects to lose Belichick, Parcells said, "I hope I do if it's for a head job. He's earned it."

Belichick's nickel packages stymied the Bills in the Super Bowl. The Browns had to notice.

* Meggett's contract status: The former Towson State flash made a significant contribution in postseason wins over San Francisco and Buffalo with Hampton out. Yesterday Parcells likened the one-two combination of Anderson and Meggett to that of the former Redskins duo of John Riggins and Joe Washington.

Meggett's two-year contract is up. He made a point with a one-day walkout last fall, but has been a good soldier since. The Giants know Meggett's value, and will reward him accordingly.

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