Of course, I am not the commissioner of football. That’s Roger Goodell, and he doesn’t agree with me.
“That’s their decision,” Goodell said. “Bill is a great coach, and I’m sure (he) will add a lot of personality and intrigue.”
Goodell’s response seems to be a popular one, and with the announcement today that all suspensions were being upheld, it is also a very real possibility. At the end of the day I seem to be in the minority on this, but nobody seems to mind having a soon to be Hall of Fame coach taking over the reins for a team that blatantly disregarded NFL rules, not to mention player safety.
I have to preface this by saying that I think most people overvalue the importance of coaching. At the highest levels, the difference in coaching is negligible. Very few coaches are actually innovative risk takers who do much of anything differently. In my opinion there is only two professional coaches I would want in charge of my team, Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick. After that, it’s pretty much a crap shoot.
That said, I don’t really think it matters if Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh or Bill Nye the Science Guy takes over the Saints for a year, as long as Drew Brees is their quarterback and the rest of the team is pretty much intact, they should still be Super Bowl contenders. The problem I have with the commissioner allowing Parcells to coach is that it sends the wrong message.
Let’s be clear, if this was a matter of just punishing the coach for something he did, fine. But in suspending General Manager Mickey Loomis as well, it is clear that Roger Goodell views this as an organizational problem with the Saints. Therefore, the team has to be punished.
Fans see the suspension of Sean Payton for an entire season as a severe punishment that will negatively affect the Saints, which is the intended consequence. If the Saints are allowed to replace him on an interim basis with Bill Parcells, that perception is going to shift. How is the team being punished if they are allowed to bring in a future Hall of Famer as a fill in?
The team should be forced to compensate for the loss of their coach from within. Five years ago, in his only season as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Cam Cameron made a peculiar decision in the preseason. He decided to step back and watch the final preseason game. He elevated defensive coordinator Dom Capers to acting head coach so he could better evaluate his players before final cuts and to he also wanted to see how his staff would handle things if he were to ever miss a game. At the time it was ridiculed as a peculiar decision and should have been a red flag that maybe Cameron wasn’t cut out to run an organization.
Looking back, it is still a pretty peculiar decision. But had the scenario played out and he was forced to miss 3 regular season games, who would have taken his place? It would have been Capers and they would have shuffled the rest of the staff to cover any gaps.
So why, considering they are being punished, should the Saints be allowed to bring in Parcells? That is the convenient thing, but last time I checked, if you are being punished, things shouldn’t be convenient.
A lot of people see this scenario similar to when a player is suspended. The team is allowed to replace him with whoever they please. But those situations are completely different. Most suspensions of players are because of the individual players actions. Shawne Merriman gets suspended for PEDs? That’s on him. Pacman Jones gets suspended for violation X? That’s on him too. The team is punished because they have to play with a player they deem inferior to the suspended player.
Look at the case of Jonathan Vilma, who faces the real possibility of being suspended over Bounty-gate. If he is forced to miss games, what do the Saints do to replace him? They signed Curtis Lofton of the Falcons who could definitely start, but he is not Jonathan Vilma and is definitely not Ray Lewis. If you believe in the importance of coaching and in resume and pedigree, right now Bill Parcells is to coaching what Ray Lewis is to middle linebackers, a guy who may not be what he once was, but whose reputation carries enough weight to make you look past recent decline. Ask the average fan who the best coach a team could hire right now would be, and Parcells would be on that list.
In the end, Roger Goodell cares about the image of the league and allowing Bill Parcells to coach the Saints will show that the penalties he imposes on management are not as severe as what he imposes on players. Allowing Parcells to coach is akin to taking a teenagers computer away but letting them keep their iPhone. In the end, I really don’t think it matters who is coaching the team as long as Drew Brees is still the quarterback and individual player suspensions aren’t too severe. If they stay healthy, this is still a Super Bowl contender.
One note on Parcells though, he recently said he would be a hypocrite if he didn’t listen to the Saints and that he would be doing this for his good friend Sean Payton. The question is, would he being this if his good friend was Pat Shurmer?
Yeah, didn’t think so.