Originally created 01/30/97

Parcells confined by NFL



FOXBORO, Mass. - Bill Parcells cannot coach or work for any other NFL team next season without permission from the New England Patriots, commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled Wednesday.

Parcells may continue as coach of the Patriots in 1997, may coach another NFL club with the Patriots' permission or may pursue "other business opportunities, such as broadcasting or other non-coaching positions," according to the NFL's statement on Tagliabue's ruling.

Parcells cannot take any other position with another team, including general manager.

"It does not mean he can go in some other capacity to another team," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "He can't be a GM for another team in 1997. The contract gives the Patriots exclusive option on (Parcells') NFL services in 1997."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has had differences this year with Parcells, still could let him coach another team if that team offers sufficient compensation - money, a player, a draft choice or any combination.

The New York Jets reportedly were interested in hiring Parcells. Their coaching job has been available since Dec. 20 when Rich Kotite announced he wouldn't return after posting the NFL's worst record, 1-15.

"We are pleased that the National Football League has affirmed the validity of the contract between the New England Patriots and Bill Parcells, as amended on Jan. 12, 1996," the Patriots said in a statement. "Bill Parcells has been an important part of the success of this organization. It is now time for the Patriots to move ahead and build on the success of the 1996-97 season."

Kraft left Foxboro Stadium without commenting about a half hour before the NFL announced the ruling. Shortly after 3 p.m., Parcells evaded waiting cameramen by driving his dark green Cadillac outside a back exit.

The Jets refused comment "until the entire process is completed," said team president Steve Gutman.

Tagliabue had been asked to mediate the contract dispute between Parcells and Kraft. The decision came just three days after the coach led the Patriots to the Super Bowl, losing 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers.

Parcells claimed his original five-year contract - negotiated with former owner James Orthwein - allowed him to get out of the last season by paying the owner $1.2 million, one year's salary.

At Parcells request, Kraft agreed last January to eliminate the last season, 1997. That revision also gave the Patriots the exclusive right to employ Parcells if he decided to continue coaching next season, Tagliabue ruled.

Parcells' interpretation would make the key part of the revision "meaningless and of no effect" and would be "contrary to common sense, as well as to Massachusetts law," the commissioner said.

"Mr. Parcells not only promised to coach the Patriots in 1996 but also gave the Patriots a conditional option to extend the contract through the 1997 season," Tagliabue wrote in his decision.

Tagliabue, who was in Los Angeles en route to Sunday's Pro Bowl, made his ruling following a telephone conference call Tuesday with Kraft and his attorney in Boston, and Parcells and his representatives elsewhere in the city.

Reports in the days before the Super Bowl had Parcells being replaced by Pete Carroll, San Francisco's defensive coordinator. Carroll had a 6-10 record with the Jets in 1994, his only season as an NFL head coach.