Sean Payton and Bill Parcells are good friends, the kind of friends who feel comfortable asking each other for favors. When normal folk ask favors of each other, the request is maybe an airport pickup, or babysitting a goldfish.
But this goes far beyond the borrowing of milk in a pinch. Payton might ask Parcells to keep his seat more than just warm while he’s gone for a year serving his bountygate suspension. That figurative stool needs to be championship hot.
If that request finally and officially comes from Payton, Parcells told Newsday’s Bob Glauber that he’d strongly consider the friendly favor.
“If this guy says to me, ‘Bill, I need you to do this,’ ” Parcells said in an interview with Newsday Wednesday afternoon. “That’s what friends are supposed to be for.”
Parcells turned down two other coaching opportunities after leaving the Cowboys in 2006, a fact that’s been well documented as the 70-year-old has flirted with a comeback this week. If this was anyone else, his answer would likely be quick, and it would consist of two letters. But since this is Payton, who coached under Parcells in Dallas, the decision is difficult, and it’s sounding like he’s leaning towards a positive, three-letter answer.
“The thing with this one, it’s a little more personal to me, because this is one of my guys.”
It isn’t that simple, though. It never is.
Payton could appeal the suspension, a decision he has to make by Monday. If that happens, Payton’s fate will be reevaluated. He’ll still be punished for his role in bountygate, but if Roger Goodell has a moment of weakness, his banishment could be reduced.
Those holding glasses half filled with fluid imagine that scenario ending very well for Payton, and his suspension being reduced to half a season. If Goodell is in a truly cheerful mood and grants that reduction, there’s little need for Parcells to babysit for eight games, and then hand off his baton to Payton. Such a drastic experiment in team chemistry and balance hasn’t been conducted in the NFL, and the Saints likely won’t want to be the first.
However, the far more realistic level of liquid in that glass is none at all. Goodell had harsh words for the Saints during the owners meetings, so his leniency during an appeal will be limited, and likely non-existent. Regardless of the decision, Parcells told Glauber that he doesn’t expect an immediate resolution to his unretirement dance because of the potential for an appeal, and the review process that entails.
“I think there are a few more things to be settled before they would be ready to move on from where they are. I don’t know whether they’re going to appeal or not. [If they did], that would take a little time. I don’t know exactly how long.”
Parcells meet with Saints GM Mickey Loomis, and enjoyed a cordial round of golf. But there’s still no offer yet, with Parcells saying that he’ll “have to know a lot more” than he knows right now, and that the two sides will “be in touch.”
So for now, we’ll wait, and so will he.