Did Parcells fumble ball in dealing with Manning?

On the NFL

March 09, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Bill Parcells, the coach, may have trouble winning for Bill Parcells, the general manager.

That's because Parcells didn't come off as a shrewd operator in the Peyton Manning affair, the first major situation he faced since joining the New York Jets.

When Manning's father, Archie, recently called Parcells, they played a version of don't ask-don't tell. Manning was too polite to ask Parcells if he would draft his son and keep him.

"There was an indication they really liked Peyton, and he seemed certain that Peyton would be the first pick, but I wasn't inclined to ask him in February if he was definitely going to take Peyton," Archie Manning said.

The surprising thing is that Parcells didn't tell him that he'd pick Manning and keep him.

"Archie called me one time, but it never got to a situation where we got to discussing it. I've known Archie quite a while. We spoke one time and that was it. I never really got into it too much about Peyton. We just talked about certain situations.

"I had no sense of what he was going to do and I wasn't trying to find out," Parcells said.

Parcells probably didn't want to promise Manning that he wouldn't trade him in case he got a blockbuster offer. But he risked Manning's not coming out, and that's what happened.

Manning obviously figured if there was a chance he'd get traded somewhere he didn't want to go, he'd stay in school and take his chances next year.

Of course, there's no guarantee Manning would have come out even if Parcells had promised not to trade him. But it was strange for Parcells not to even make a pitch for him.

"Quite frankly, I hadn't given it too much thought," Parcells said. "I'm too busy trying solve some of the other problems I have here right now."

It's hard to imagine what's more important than a shot at the decade's best quarterback prospect. It's not as if this draft is loaded with prospects. The next highest-rated player is left tackle Orlando Pace, but the last time an offensive lineman was taken with the first selection was in 1968, when the Minnesota Vikings picked Ron Yary.

Since Parcells likes defensive players, he may even bypass Pace -- who will work out for scouts Friday -- for Southern Cal defensive tackle Darrell Russell.

There's always the chance Parcells may get one more chance at Manning.

When Archie Manning called Parcells back last week to tell him Peyton was staying in school, Parcells told him, "Heck, we may have a chance at him next year."

Manning said, "No, you're not going to have the first pick."

Parcells replied, "You haven't seen our defense."

Moving down

Since Manning won't be in the draft and the Ravens are no longer likely to get Florida State defensive end Peter Boulware with the fourth selection, it seems more likely they'll trade down for extra picks.

They've had talks with the Seattle Seahawks, who have the 11th and 12th picks in the first round and are interested in moving up to take cornerback Shawn Springs.

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda likes the idea of extra picks because "the strength of this draft is the second through the fourth rounds."

Since the Ravens have Antonio Langham at one corner and Marchibroda said DeRon Jenkins is ready to start at the other one, Marchibroda's not keen on taking a cornerback in the fourth slot and there won't be any pass rushers rated that high after Boulware.

The loss of center Steve Everitt also means the team will have more money to spend on free-agent defensive players.

The Philadelphia Eagles, who had $11 million in cap room, front- loaded the Everitt deal with a $4 million cap number the first year.

Even if Everitt had given the Ravens the chance, they would have had problems matching that figure despite being fourth in the league in cap room with $6.3 million.

The Ravens, though, have only 32 players signed, the fewest in the league (the Jets are second-lowest with 43) so they still have to be prudent in their spending.

But Everitt's loss does give them more flexibility in looking at defensive players.

For example, they're taking a long look at San Diego Changers pTC end Raylee Johnson, who already has visited the Ravens. He's a pass-rush specialist, and that's their top priority.

After losing Pittsburgh Steelers free-agent defensive end Ray Seals to the Carolina Panthers last week, the Ravens still will be looking for pass rushers.

The rules

Although instant replay is the issue the fans care about at this week's owners' meeting, the one that concerns the owners the most will be the debate about whether to change the cross-ownership rules to allow Wayne Huizenga to remain as the Miami Dolphins owner and Paul Allen to buy the Seahawks.

This debate will focus on the question of whether the NFL is going to keep changing its rules to meet certain situations.

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is adamant that they shouldn't change it.

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