Longtime readers of my column know I delight in sharing secrets the Worldwide Leader in Sports would rather not have discussed. Today I’m delighted. Tickled pink. Giddy.
Bill Parcells, the ESPN know-it-all and media darling, is responsible for producing two of the worst teams in the NFL today — the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.
This little-discussed fact occurred to me as I was reading Michael Lombardi’s column at NFL.com. Lombardi, a former general manager and a bright football mind, lamented the sorry plight of Chiefs general manager Scott “Egoli” Pioli. Lombardi expressed sympathy for Egoli because the 1-3, going-nowhere Chiefs have suffered several key injuries and because head coach Todd Haley acts like a 12-year-old most days.
I happen to think Egoli is a blowhard, a fraud, a bully and perfectly deserving of the comeuppance the 2011 season is delivering. He constructed a bad football team, empowered a childish, insecure head coach and implemented a top-down leadership strategy that relies on mean-spirited disrespect and intimidation from the front office and the coaching staff.
Where did Egoli learn this?
Not in New England. Not under Bill Belichick. The Patriots and Belichick rely on a core group of players for leadership. The players — even retired Patriots — police their own. That is why retired Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi verbally brutalized receiver Chad Ochocinco for innocent comments made on Twitter.
Again, so where did Egoli learn his leadership model?
From his father-in-law, “The Big Tuna,” the same man who birthed a massive coaching ego in Todd Haley.
As a member of the media, it’s important for me to mention that I like The Big Tuna. He’s a great quote. He’s good for my line of work. But his brilliance as a football genius might be a bit overblown because of his cozy relationship with the media in general and the New York media in particular.
That is not written to diminish his two Super Bowl titles and his three Super Bowl appearances. However, The Big Tuna never coached in a Super Bowl without Belichick on his coaching staff. In fact, Parcells coached seven seasons in the NFL without Belichick on the coaching staff — three in New England and four in Dallas. Parcells’ record in those seven seasons was 55-57 in the regular season and 0-3 in the postseason.
Belichick’s career record without Parcels is currently 165-95, 15-6 and three Super Bowl titles.
Did I mention that Pioli married Parcells’ daughter more than a decade ago? Did I mention that Haley got his coaching start on Parcells’ New York Jets staff and considers Parcells his coaching mentor?
Pioli and Haley grew close to Parcells after The Big Tuna had won his two Super Bowls, after Mike Francesca and Mike Lupica convinced The Big Tuna he was God’s gift to Vince Lombardi.
Pioli and Haley — who joined Parcells and Belichick with the Jets — know the football cartoon caricature, the coaching legend whose ego told him to bolt New England after Super Bowl XXXI because it was unfair for owner Robert Kraft to ask him to “cook the dinner” without allowing him to shop “for some of the groceries.” Parcells was irate because Kraft overruled him on draft day in 1995 and made him select receiver Terry Glenn, who recorded a then-record-breaking rookie season and played a big role in New England’s Super Bowl run.
Parcells bequeathed his ego, bluster, arrogance and bully tactics to Haley and Pioli.
When Pioli landed the general manager job in Kansas City and couldn’t land Kirk Ferentz or Josh McDaniels and couldn’t stomach the idea of retaining Herm Edwards, Parcells bequeathed his son-in-law Todd Haley as head coach.
Pioli-Haley is a match made in football hell. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was the first media member to promote the marriage. I wrote about it in the aftermath of Arizona’s victory in the NFC Championship Game in 2009. At the time, I had no inkling of the size of Pioli’s ego and the irrational nature of Haley’s insecurity-driven false bravado. And I had no idea Pioli and Haley would both unveil bad Parcells impersonations.
I’m sure some of this sounds quite similar to the train wreck in Miami. Parcells fleeced the Dolphins for $16 million before quitting 2-1/2 years into his four-year rebuilding plan. As vice president of football operations and golf tee times, Parcells installed puppets Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano, respectively, as general manager and head coach of the Dolphins.
Dollar Bill, who wrote himself a sweetheart, guaranteed-even-if-I-quit contract, bequeathed Ireland and Sparano ego, bluster, arrogance, bully tactics and little else. Ireland, if you remember, is the smooth operator who asked Dez Bryant if his mama was a ho. Ireland is also the clown who destroyed his relationship with Sparano by participating in the failed wooing of Jim Harbaugh.
The Dolphins are an irrelevant, winless mess. Why? Because you don’t build football franchises around the personalities of the men who don’t suit up. You build franchises around the players.
Since leaving New England, Dollar Bill Parcells has been trying to build a football franchise in his image. It hasn’t worked. And now his disciples are failing in Kansas City and Miami. The Chiefs, for my money, are the worst team in football. The Dolphins have no identity. Their identity quit and took his ego to ESPN for additional stroking.
It’s rather comical watching Parcells bloviate from Bristol. He pontificates from the pretense that he represents an old-school, traditional-values approach to team and winning. Dollar Bill is more hey-look-at-me than his “Countdown” colleague Me-shawn Johnson.