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Jets Sign Running Back Parmalee

September 7, 1999

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ For more than a year, New York Jets linebacker Bryan Cox has been urging coach Bill Parcells to try to sign Dolphins running back Bernie Parmalee. On Tuesday, two days after Miami let Parmalee go, Parcells did just that.

``Yesterday, I called Bryan up and told him, `Quit bugging me, I got the player,′ ″ Parcells said. Parmalee, 32 next week, will be plugged in immediately on most of the Jets’ special teams. The eighth-year veteran, Miami’s leading tackler on coverage teams the past two seasons, also might be utilized as a third-down back.

``It’s great,″ said Parmalee, who is from New Jersey, as is Parcells. ``I’ve got an opportunity to play for one of the greatest coaches that ever coached. When my career is done, I can say I had the opportunity to play for the big Tuna. It’s good to know that.″

To make room for Parmalee, the Jets terminated the contract of running back Keith Byars, who had been scheduled to be a backup F-Back in the club’s restructured offense. Byars, who did not play special teams, was effectively bumped to third string Sunday when Parcells elected to keep second-year player Blake Spence, a promising talent.

Jets players were as happy to see Parmalee arrive Tuesday as Dolphins players were sorry to see him go Sunday. The back, a special-teams co-captain for Miami a season ago, is known as a solid locker room presence and a leader on the field.

The Dolphins, overloaded with running backs and young players on the rise, no longer had room for Parmalee.

``I’m never bitter,″ Parmalee said. ``I don’t hold any grudges. I just move on. That’s life; everything’s not going to work out the way you want it all the time, so you just have to move on.″

Parcells had eyed Parmalee long before Cox began to speak up. The former rookie free agent, signed by Miami in 1992, has been a familiar scouting target for the coach in stints with the New England Patriots and Jets. The men talked often before games in recent seasons.

``I feel like I know Bernie Parmalee as well as some of my players, probably better than some of my players,″ Parcells said. ``I’ve coached against him 15 or 16 times. I know the player.″

Cox, with the Dolphins from 1991-95, said he approached Parcells about Parmalee because he knew what his former teammate could do. The coach joked Tuesday that he would blame the linebacker if Parmalee didn’t work out.

``I’ll take that responsibility, because I’m not going to put my name on nothing that I don’t believe in,″ Cox said. ``I believe in Bernie. If we’re going to be successful, he’s going to be a major part of that.″

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