Parcells gets Jets boarding pass In exchange, Patriots get four draft choices, but not No. 1 this year

February 11, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

The Bill Parcells case finally was settled yesterday with each side getting half a loaf in a deal brokered by commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The New York Jets got Parcells as their coach immediately and they got to keep the first two picks in this year's draft -- the first and 31st selections.

But the New England Patriots got a package of four draft picks that could keep them a contender in the years to come if they draft well. The Jets also will contribute $300,000 to a Patriots' charity.

The Patriots got the Jets' third- and fourth-round picks this year, their second-round choice next year and their first-round pick in 1999. It means the Patriots will have 16 picks in the first four rounds the next three years and the Jets will have eight.

Parcells becomes the Jets' third coach in seven weeks.

In an obvious ploy to force the Patriots to make a deal, the Jets, who allowed Rich Kotite to step down Dec. 20, named Parcells a consultant six days ago while his sidekick, Bill Belichick, was named interim head coach.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who was refusing to let Parcells out of his contract if he didn't get the first pick this year, labeled that move a "transparent farce" and called on Tagliabue to intervene.

At a five-hour hearing yesterday, Tagliabue was supposed to be deciding whether Parcells could be a consultant, but his main focus was to broker a deal.

"I did what I think was fair to both sides," said Tagliabue, who got the permission of both teams to put together a deal after the sides couldn't reach an agreement.

Leon Hess, the Jets owner who rarely appears in public, seemed happier than Kraft with the decision.

"We're very happy and the commissioner did a heckuva job. We're looking forward to Bill Parcells being in camp tomorrow," Hess said.

Kraft said: "We had great plans with that No. 1 pick. We knew how it could strengthen our team. [But] in the end, it was most important to get a deal done and put this whole thing behind us."

He then tried to put a more positive spin on it.

"When you think about it, we got 16 years of players based on an average of four years for a career. In exchange we get Parcells coaching against us for only one extra year. I think we came out pretty well," he said.

The deal means the Patriots will have six picks in the first four rounds this year, three picks in the first two rounds next year and two first-round choices in 1999.

By contrast, the Jets have two picks in the first four rounds this year, one in the first two rounds next year and no first-round pick in 1999.

It adds up to 11 top picks for the Patriots the next three years while the Jets will have just three in the comparable rounds. For the first four rounds, the edge for the Patriots the next three years is 16-8.

To use Parcells' analogy that the draft is like shopping for groceries, the Patriots' cart is going to be much fuller than the Jets'.

Of course, Parcells is likely to be able to draft Peyton Manning of Tennessee with the first pick in this year's draft -- although Manning has until April to determine if he's going to come out for the draft -- so he'll have his quarterback of the future.

But Parcells could have trouble building a team around Manning because of the missing picks.

If Kraft hadn't made such a public issue out of the first pick in this year's draft, this settlement would seem to be in his favor.

Tagliabue said: "There were wide differences and both thought it should be resolved today and they authorized me to make a decision. Both teams had to give a little and neither got exactly what they wanted."

The settlement was made in a Manhattan law office and announced in the lobby of the building while fans crowded around.

When one fan spotted Hess, he said, "Hey, is that Hess? It's about time you showed up."

Hess wasn't at the news conference when Kotite departed or when Parcells was named a consultant. The 82-year-old owner runs an oil business and is usually seen at the Jets offices only every Thanksgiving Day.

Of his six-day tenure as head coach, Belichick said, "This is the agreement we came here hoping for. I'm glad Bill is here."

Belichick will become the assistant head coach in charge of the defense.

Parcells, 55, said in a statement, "I can't wait to get to work tomorrow morning to start rewarding the tremendous confidence Leon Hess has placed in me."

Belichick, though, still may wind up being head coach of the Jets some day. Parcells has promised to coach only four years of his six-year deal.

Considering Parcells' past record of quitting jobs, there's no guarantee he'll last four years.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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