NFL's T.O.-Parcells Relationship Worth Watching Pro football is already back on the field. Washington Post sportswriter Len Shapiro previews the season. The League's best drama this year will be the relationship between wide receiver Terrell Owens and Dallas coach Bill Parcells. After a tumultuous tenure with Philadelphia, Owens may find himself on a short leash with the veteran coach.
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NFL's T.O.-Parcells Relationship Worth Watching

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NFL's T.O.-Parcells Relationship Worth Watching

NFL's T.O.-Parcells Relationship Worth Watching

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

All this talk of the TV schedule leads to the question of whether we'll actually be interested in anything that will be on TV in the NFL season. To find out, we've called Len Shapiro. He's a staff writer and columnist at The Washington Post. Welcome to the program.

LEN SHAPIRO: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's everybody talking about as the season nears?

SHAPIRO: Well, number one on everybody's hit list of course is Terrell Owens who, almost single-handedly, destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles last year with his antics until they finally suspended him and wanted no part of him even though he's probably the most talented receiver in the NFL.

He has now gone on to the Dallas Cowboys where he can make Bill Parcells feel as if he's no longer 65, as he turned yesterday, but probably 90 years old. He's already had problems with his hamstring, can't get on the field, and there are grumblings in Dallas that maybe this was not such a great move.

INSKEEP: Bill Parcells, the great coach, formerly with the Giants, now the Cowboys, just turned 65. Nobody expected him to still be coaching at 65, and here he is for one more year.

SHAPIRO: Well, one more year and who knows how long after that. He has had a great run with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowls there, took the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, didn't win there, and is now trying to do it again in Dallas. But this is what he loves to do, and as long as he's healthy I think he's going to try and keep doing it, if not this year, then certainly through the next couple of three year.

INSKEEP: Well, what happens when you have a coach like that who is a gigantic figure, who's going to command respect if anybody does, and he goes up against a player who's seen as a problem like Terrell Owens?

SHAPIRO: Well, if Terrell Owens remains a problem, he won't be a problem for Parcells very long. He'll dump him. Parcells is a pragmatist. He knows that Owens can help him get into the playoffs. He knows Owens has the potential if all things go right to make them a possible Super Bowl team. And I think he'll give him a long leash. But if Owens really gets out of hand, he will cut him in a heartbeat and nobody should be surprised if that happens.

INSKEEP: We mentioned that Bill Parcells is back for another season. Let's mention a player who's back for another season somewhat surprisingly to some: Brett Favre has decided to come back for one more season. What do you think drives a player to come back one more time?

SHAPIRO: Oh, well, there's a couple of things. Number one is the dollar signs. Where else are you going to make $15 million a year? He certainly isn't going to do that mowing grass in Mississippi, where he lives in the off-season.

But these guys, you have to literally pull the uniform off a lot of these guys, particularly the quarterbacks. They're competitors. They're fiery. I think he wants one more taste of it. It wouldn't surprise me if he played another two or three years into his forties.

The bad thing is that the Packers are not very good this year. His offensive line is not very good. He may get pounded enough because he's going to get sacked so often that he may get the sense knocked into him.

INSKEEP: Len Shapiro, I'm glad we found you in Canton, Ohio, where you happen to be involved in helping with selections for the Football Hall of Fame. Does that give you a different perspective as the season begins to be thinking about the people whose mark in the game really lasts?

SHAPIRO: Yeah, you know, you always are on the lookout for, you know, who are the greatest players of a certain era. I'm on the Senior Committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and we are charged with getting back guys on the ballot who may have slipped through the cracks over the last 30 years who deserve it and may have been overlooked for whatever reason. And that's the kind of player we're trying to make amends for in our selection process.

INSKEEP: Well, we'll listen for those selections and for everything else that happens this season. Len Shapiro, good to talk with you.

SHAPIRO: Thanks, Steve.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Len Shapiro is a sportswriter for The Washington Post. And by the way, the NFL season begins September 7. Miami plays the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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