Editor’s note: This is an archived column that first appeared on Feb. 1, 1997.
FOXBOROUGH -- Give Tuna’s Farewell Address a ``D.’’
That’s D for Disingenuous.
I can only imagine the look on Bill Parcells’ face if an agent, or some other kind of low-life (e.g., a writer), tried to run the same kind of jive by him that he tried to run by all of us yesterday.
This, frankly, is not the way I wanted the last Boston edition of Tuna Talk to go. I had developed enormous respect and admiration for the institution of Tuna Talk over the past four years, and I wanted the final session to be a let-your-hair-down classic.
It wasn’t. Instead of a candid assessment of how things ever got to the state they’re in today, we got what my old friend Clif Keane would call the Swerve Job. We got a steady dose of partial truths and evasions. Bill Parcells did not come to his final Tuna Talk ready to set the record straight. He came to spend a prefunctory hour with the media in the hopes that he could get people off his back once and for all.
``It’s not about power,’’ he said. He talked of ``philosophical differences.’’ But he cagily refused to spell out what those ``philosophical differences’’ really were.
He praised Bob Kraft (``he’s been supportive’’) and he said Kraft, having put up the money, had the right to run the franchise as he saw fit, and that the Tuna had no problem with that.
He also said something very bizarre and outrageous. He said, ``We didn’t really ever have time to sit down and talk about how things should go.’’
Kraft took over the team on Jan. 21, 1994. The Tuna spoke these words on Jan. 31, 1997. So he is saying there was absolutely no time in the ensuing three years and 10 days for the Tuna to have a little soul-searching session with his boss? Nothing at 7 a.m.? Nothing at 11 p.m.? No time in Foxborough, Sea Girt, Jupiter, or even Mars?
Did the Tuna ever want such a meeting?
More disingenuousness: Tuna played Mickey The Dunce with regard to the entire Jets issue. What negotiations? What Will McDonough story (``Will McDonough writes a lot of stories’’)? What coaching vacancy?
Tuna looked a national TV audience in the eye and disavowed all knowledge of anything regarding the Jets, or even his own future. He drew some deserved laughs by invoking Sgt. Schultz of ``Hogan’s Heroes.’’
``I know nothing.’’
Sure, Bill. You, Mr. Control? You, Mr. On Top Of Everything? ‘Fess up, OK? You’ve already scripted the first 10 plays of the first Jets exhibition, if I know you.
Perhaps he was so dishonest yesterday because it was Jan. 31 and the Patriots’ contract didn’t expire until midnight. Perhaps he was told by his agent to play dumb, vis a vis his plans, so there would be a lesser chance of any tampering charges being filed.
But the Jan. 31 business didn’t stop his wonderfully candid ex-owner from openly discussing the Pats-Jets negotiations, did it? Here was Bob Kraft warning the Jets not to even think about trading their No. 1 away. I loved that one. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything like it.
Make no mistake. Bill Parcells deserves the thanks of the organization, the fans, and yes, the media, for turning the New England Patriots from a Nobody into a Somebody over the past four years. Here’s one thing he said I would not quarrel with.
``I said when I came here to New England that I would not rest until this team could compete for the championship -- and we’ve done that.’’ Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
OK, but why did he continually insist he couldn’t coach in 1997, when he knows full well he can coach in 1997 with the Patriots’ permission? Why would he insult everyone’s intelligence that way? Only he knows.
And then there was the laugh-getting ``grocery’’ line. In reference to the power struggle that wasn’t a power struggle, he said, ``If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.’’
Great line that. Our question is this: Bill, just how many times was a food you didn’t like shoved down your throat? Other than the Roast Glenn on a day you preferred Fried Brackens? How many times were you overruled? Let the world know how much your judgment was questioned so we can have a better idea why you have decided you can’t live with the Bob Kraft style of management.
The Tuna also claimed to have been thanked by ``hundreds’’ of fans. ``I walk the streets,’’ he said. Oh, really? I would like to hear from one fan who has had personal contact with the Tuna in real life. I think we all know the fans are an abstract to him. His fan contact days ended long ago.
I’m disappointed. Tuna enriched our lives and enlightened all of us who were around him, and he should have delivered a better farewell address. I expected more candor from him.
It’s not about power? Sorry, Charlie, I’m not buying it, and neither should anyone else.