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Jets’ plan: Belichick the coach, Parcells the ‘consultant’

February 4, 1997

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ Unable to strike a deal with New England to immediately get Bill Parcells as their coach, the New York Jets today hired him as a consultant. They will make him their coach no later than next year.

For now, Bill Belichick, Parcells’ longtime aide, will become the interim coach and run the team’s football operations. Jets president Steve Gutman said Belichick is also likely to be the successor after Parcells coaches ``two or more years.″

Parcells will make no final decisions for the Jets while honoring the terms of his contract with the Patriots. That agreement, upheld by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, stipulates that Parcells can’t hold a coaching job or ``other comparable position″ until Feb. 1, 1998 _ unless the Patriots give their permission.

``I’m not allowed to partake in anything on the field, and I am not under any illusions on that, and I will not have any final decisions on personnel,″ said Parcells, speaking at the news conference by phone from the Boston area. ``I will just act in an advisory capacity,″

``Bill and I will work in concert as we always have and I think we’ll be successful,″ Belichick said at the news conference at the Jets’ headquarters.

Parcells, who coached the Patriots to the Super Bowl this season, said he planned to watch as many Jets’ games in person as he could and will have an office at the Jets’ complex. Gutman said Parcells is to work a ``limited number of hours.″

``A consultant consults,″ Gutman said. ``He does not make decisions.″

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said the team would have no comment on the Jets’ moves.

Last week, Tagliabue ruled that Parcells’ contract gave the Patriots the ``exclusive option″ on the coach’s NFL services in 1997. Gutman refused to say whether the Jets received permission from the NFL before agreeing to hire Parcells as a consultant. The league did not immediately comment.

``I know the Jets would not have proceeded unless they cleared that with the commissioner,″ Parcells said.

Belichick, who was the Cleveland Browns’ head coach for five seasons, going 36-44, spent last season as Parcells’ assistant head coach-defense with the Patriots. He was defensive coordinator when the Giants won two Super Bowls under Parcells.

Clearly, he is not the coach the woeful Jets sought. But with negotiations with New England to acquire Parcells going nowhere and the Jets adamant in retaining their overall No. 1 draft pick, the club turned to Belichick as a successor to Rich Kotite, filling the last NFL coaching vacancy.

Gutman said negotiations for Parcells to take over sooner were continuing between Jets owner Leon Hess and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. But Gutman reiterated that the Jets will not give up the first pick in April’s draft to secure Parcells as their coach for next season.

Parcells agreed with that approach.

Belichick, 44, inherits a team that went 3-13 and 1-15 the last two seasons under Kotite. He will be the fourth coach the team has had in five years and Parcells presumably would become the fifth in six years when he takes over the following season.

``I think everyone has to understand this is a program and a program extends beyond one person,″ Belichick said. ``I think I will have to earn their respect here and I will do that. If a player wants to be a part of the system, he’ll jump in and do it.″

No matter who the coach is.

The Jets were intent on signing Parcells ever since Kotite resigned two days before the end of the season. Because the Patriots made the Super Bowl, the Jets’ pursuit of Parcells was delayed for nearly a month. Then the Jets and Patriots could not agree on compensation for Parcells.

As the Jets pursued permission to talk to and hire Parcells, the rift with the Patriots became uglier.

On Monday, when the Jets first spoke to Belichick and Parcells about the proposal they accepted, both sides wondered about possible tampering.

With free agency beginning next week and the NFL combines at the end of this week, not having a coach in place would be an unenviable situation. Then again, not much was enviable about the Jets the last two years.

Cleveland had one winning season in Belichick’s five years as head coach. In 1994, the Browns were 11-5 and lost to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs. Otherwise, they went 6-10, 7-9, 7-9 and 5-11.

Belichick is considered a disciplinarian whose unbending ways hurt him in Cleveland. He’s almost as unpopular in that city as Art Modell, who backed Belichick when the coach cut quarterback Bernie Kosar in 1993.

But the Jets could use some discipline. Under Kotite, there was little threat that veterans would lose their jobs if they didn’t perform well. Kotite’s easy manner didn’t work and the players accepted losing too easily.

``We need an atmosphere of winning,″ said Keyshawn Johnson, the top pick in the ’96 draft. ``To win one game out of 16 is ridiculous. Everyone on this team has to believe we can win and not just say, `OK, we lost, we’ll win next time.′ It hurts me when we lose. It has to hurt to lose.″

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