NFL Network's Mike Lombardi is tight with Bill Parcells. In the hours they've shared discussing football and life, Lombardi has learned what makes the legendary coach tick.
We're no closer to a decision on the Saints' interim coaching position in the wake of the team's bounty scandal, but Parcells' name hangs out there as a logical choice to replace the suspended Sean Payton for the 2012 season (assuming Payton's appeal doesn't alter anything).
Let's round up some of the plusses and minuses:
•*Comfortable fit, adoring city:* Parcells and Payton are two peas in a pod. Parcells genuinely wants to help his friend, and it's a manageable task because Bill's fingerprints are all over the Saints. The worst-case scenario for this team would be to go through a jarring change. Some new face with fresh, shiny ideas. The team was seconds away from the NFC title game. This is no time for divergent philosophies. Parcells would run the team as Payton did. He would play the role of trustworthy knight, riding in to save a disgraced franchise.
•*Playoff-ready team seeking a leader:* Anything the Saints accomplish next season is icing on the cake for the team. If Parcells guides them into the playoffs, it becomes a story line for the ages. Payton's legacy is damaged, but Parcells can do no wrong. As Lombardi pointed out, Parcells wouldn't be tasked with building a team. The team is here. Waiting to play. The role is enticing because Parcells waged war as coach of the Jets and Cowboys -- and oversaw the Dolphins -- with nothing close to Drew Brees at quarterback (we're assuming Brees will work through his contract situation with the team).
•*Doing what he was born to do:* Nobody is asking Parcells to step into a five-year contract. It's a quick-hit deal. If he's entertaining this, it's because he hasn't lost his passion or ability to teach players how to win football games. He commands respect. As Lombardi stated, this wouldn't be some frazzled substitute teacher waltzing in without a clue. Parcells is a legend, and players will respond.
•*Hall of Fame clock:* Many were surprised to see Parcells miss out on the Hall this year, and Gil Brandt believes induction is of great importance to him. If Parcells accepts a coaching role with New Orleans, his eligibility clock resets, pushing it back to five years and counting. Parcells is 70 years old. The Hall is a factor, but opinions vary as to how much this matters to him.
Lombardi: A perfect match
Is Bill Parcells the right man to take over the Saints in the 2012 season? No doubt about it, writes Michael Lombardi. **More ...**
•*Team falls apart:* We don't have an answer yet on how the players involved with the bounty scandal will be disciplined. In addition, we don't have a read on how New Orleans will perform on the field amid changes. There's no reason to believe the Saints are about to stink up the joint, but what if Parcells takes over and the team unravels? A feel-good ride isn't guaranteed.
•*Father Time:* Coaches league-wide are working longer hours than ever before. These men have one speed. Parcells has learned to delegate, but with his reputation involved, he'll want to grind. Can he do this at age 70? Is it a job for a younger man?
•*His legacy:* Parcells must weigh how this will reflect on a remarkable career. Parcells hasn't won a Super Bowl since January, 1991. If he takes this on, he'll be in command of a team considered title-ready. A losing season: Does it even affect what we think of the coach? A Super Bowl win: Do we just cast Parcells in bronze right there on the spot? Can he resist one more go-around?