Bill Belichick, who has been caddying for Bill Parcells for most of the last 16 years, will get head-coaching fees this season, courtesy of the New York Jets.
But Belichick still will be a caddie.
In what was perhaps an end run around an NFL edict that Parcells coach only the New England Patriots this season unless the Patriots agreed, the Jets hired Belichick as their coach Tuesday and added Parcells as a "consultant."
They also announced a date and time for a coaching change in 1998: midnight of Jan. 31, when Parcells becomes free of his Patriot contract.
Two years later, Belichick becomes coach and Parcell general manager and, perhaps, part-owner.
The Patriots immediately cried foul and said they will ask the NFL to intercede.
"This so-called consulting agreement is a transparent farce," New England said in a statement. "[It is] the latest in a series of acts by the Jets and Bill Parcells which further demonstrates it has been their intention all along to have Bill Parcells become the head coach of the Jets for the '97 season."
Not so, said Parcells.
"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," he said. "I will just act in an advisory capacity."
No one has yet said what that capacity will be.
Parcells also said the NFL had approved the arrangement, but a league statement disagreed.
"The Jets were neither denied nor given permission to make a consulting agreement with Parcells for 1997," it said. "If asked to review the agreement between the Jets and Parcells as it may affect the Patriots' contract rights for 1997, the Commissioner [Paul Tagliabue] will review the matter, including holding a hearing, if necessary. Any ruling on the consulting agreement would depend on the specifics of the arrangement."
A tie between Parcells and the Jets had been the worst-kept secret of the last season, with reports coming out of New York and New England as early as October that Rich Kotite would be fired by the Jets and replaced by Parcells. Parcells tried to put to rest the stories during the season, in which he coached the Patriots to a 35-21 Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers, but they flared during Super Bowl week when his agent, Robert Fraley, told a Boston reporter the deal was done.
Parcells and Patriot owner Robert Kraft have been at odds since last spring, when Parcells' desire to have New England select a defensive lineman as its top draft pick was overruled by Kraft, who instead agreed with the choice of Bobby Grier, his player personnel director.
That choice became Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn, who caught 90 passes during the regular season and a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
After the 1995 season, Kraft and Parcells had met to amend his contract, and Tagliabue ruled Jan. 29 the amendment said that if Parcells wanted to continue as "an NFL head football coach or other comparable position" during the 1997 season and the Patriots want him, New England has "an exclusive option on Parcells' services for the 1997 season."
Parcells, last Friday, said he would not coach for Kraft next season.
A ruling as to whether the "comparable position" includes consultant for the New York Jets probably will end up back in Tagliabue's court.
It was also recommended that anybody who desired otherwise should deal with the Patriots, and Kraft said Monday when he hired Pete Carroll to replace Parcells that he could be persuaded, but it would be expensive.
"We're open to any ideas," Kraft said, "but I don't think the transaction can happen without the No. 1 pick."
With their 1-15 record in 1996, the Jets qualified to pick first in the April draft.
The Jets reportedly were ready to offer New England two No. 2 picks and $1 million for Parcells.
Belichick and Parcells began working together on Ray Perkins' staff with the New York Giants in 1981, Parcells as defensive coordinator and Belichick coaching linebackers.
When Parcells replaced Perkins as the Giants' coach, he elevated Belichick to defensive coordinator and they coached New York to two Super Bowl championships.
Belichick became coach of the Browns, struggling through five seasons with a 36-44 record before signing up again with Parcells and the Patriots as an assistant head coach.
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* Hired Bill Belichick as their coach for 1997 season.
* Named Bill Parcells as a "consultant," trying to avoid an NFL edict that Parcells coach the Patriots this season or nobody at all.
* Announced a date and time for a coaching change in 1998: midnight of Jan. 31, when Parcells becomes free of his Patriot contract.