Tuesday, January 10, 2006


King Forgets A Key Subject

Sports Illustrated's Peter King is in high dudgeon over the Herman Edwards/New York Jets/Kansas City Chiefs flap.

After raging about the inappropriateness of Edwards getting to weasel out of his contract with two years left and the Jets lack of backbone in holding him to it, King concludes:

3. Why is the league sitting idly by and basically allowing coaches to be traded for draft choices? Is it in the best interests of the league for a coach with a perfectly valid contract to be traded? And to be traded for the absurdly low price of a fourth-round draft pick? Do you honestly think the value of a coach who has led his team to the playoffs in three of his five seasons is worth a four? That's absurd enough. But the NFL, in letting a trade like this to happen, is prolonging a practice that is slowly but surely become a sordid, greedy part of the NFL.

What's to stop Houston owner Bob McNair, who has more money than he knows what to do with, from nudging Bill Belichick's agent, winking and saying: "You know, I really like Bill. He's such a great coach.'' All of a sudden, Belichick tells Bob Kraft after the season: "I don't want to work here anymore unless you pay me $9 million a year.'' We'd all be naïve to think something like that would never cross Belichick's mind if he thought he could have a better deal somewhere else.

4. Why didn't the Jets charge the Chiefs with tampering? Could it possibly be because Chiefs president Carl Peterson is the mentor and former boss of Jets GM Terry Bradway? Bradway, in this case, is the steward of an NFL franchise, not eterson's pal. It is absurd and borderline irresponsible that the Jets got a fourth-round pick as compensation. They could have gotten more by charging the Chiefs with tampering.
King makes reference to earlier precedents such as now-retired Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden before finally concluding:

Edwards had a valid contract, and somehow he engineered his way out of it. Shame on him, the Jets ownership, Bradway and the league for allowing it to happen. The question now is not whether another team will be torn asunder by a coach who feels he's underpaid. It's when.
What's the problem?

Well, how does King manage to go on this half-("Monday Morning Quarterback") column rant without ONCE mentioning the name Bill Parcells? He is the one (along with the Jets) who
first started this head coach-sundering-of-contracts/draft-pick-compensation tango.

King didn't even have to resort to the hypothetical he used above in talking about Kraft and Belichick: BOTH men were involved in the earlier precedent: Parcells and the Jets wormed Parcells out of his Patriots' contract with one year left on it in 1997. If Kraft wasn't willing to let Parcells go, the Jets were going to name him "head of football operations" NOT head coach to get around the contractual obstacles (and using Belichek as the "placeholder" coach).

Then, three years later, Parcells wanted to run the Jets front office and step down as coach, handing the reins over to Belichick (for real this time). BB thought about it for a day -- and then promptly resigned
"as HC of NY Jets" (as he famously hand-wrote in his statement to the media). Kraft then swooped in, took him from the Jets and Parcells -- giving up some draft picks to boot -- and the rest is history -- three Super Bowls and counting.

So, King can certainly criticize Edwards (though some people feel that the Jets didn't exactly conduct themselves honorably in this episode either) if he wants, but to ignore the Parcells-Jets-Kraft Belichek precedents is just plain sloppy.

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