Friday, December 27, 2002
Parcells, Green both talking with Cowboys
By Chris Mortensen and Len Pasquarelli
For the second time in 10 days, this time on Friday at the Garden City Club on Long Island, N.Y., Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells met to discuss football and, more specifically, the possibility of "The Tuna" returning to the NFL after a three-season hiatus.
But, as first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Friday night, Parcells may not be the lone high-profile candidate Jones is considering for a job that is not yet officially vacant. Mortensen confirmed that Jones has also spoken to former Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green at least once earlier this week about the job.
When contacted by Mortensen, Green would neither confirm nor deny that he is part of the Cowboys' expected job search. He did say, "The fact is the job is not open. I have worked with Jerry Jones. I respect Jerry Jones. If the job does open up, I'm sure I would be interested."
Jones told NFL officials and Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney, the chairman of the new workplace diversity committee, that he will abide by the league's new guidelines for filling a head coach spot. The guidelines stipulate that Jones apprise the league that he plans to make a coaching change, must conduct a legitimate search, and the process must include minority candidates.
League officials reiterated to ESPN.com on Friday night that Jones has yet to inform them he will replace current head coach Dave Campo. And despite published and broadcast reports to the contrary, two Dallas assistants told ESPN.com on Friday that Jones has yet to tell Campo he won't be retained.
"Dave isn't living in a cave, and neither are the rest of us, but there's been nothing said to us by anyone about not coming back," one assistant coach said. "Of course, we all expect (to be fired), no matter what we have or haven't been told to this point."
It is doubtful that Green, who left the Vikings in 2001 after reaching a contract settlement with owner Red McCombs with only one game remaining in the regular season, would agree to simply being a token candidate. The minority coaches in the league are being urged not to agree to interviews just to fill a quota or allow an owner to fulfill his obligations under the new guidelines.
Said one black assistant coach from an AFC team: "The word is that we're to agree to interview only when we feel it's legitimate."
The chances are far better that Jones is just covering himself, given the unpredictability of Parcells, and that Green would be his next choice to take over the team. Green and Jones have a long relationship, having served together on NFL committees in the past and having crossed paths at league functions.
In his 10-season Vikings tenure, Green compiled a 101-70 record and took his team to the playoffs all but two of those years. A source close to Green told ESPN.com late Friday night that the coach "will be very, very interested in the Detroit (Lions) job," if current coach Marty Mornhinweg is fired.
"For a lot of reasons," said the source, "that job is a great fit for Denny. But he also wants to hear what (Jones) has to say."
Jones met with Parcells last Wednesday at the Teterboro, N.J. airport. Both sides wanted to keep both meetings under wraps.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN and ESPN.com.