Coach Parcells

I don’t write about football, because I don’t have any special expertise in football, and I don’t really even follow football. I watch the Dallas Cowboys if there isn’t anything else on, and I know how to fake my way through a conversation about the Cowboys, but other than that, I’m not a football fan. However, I do know Dallas. And in Dallas, football is part of the city.

“How ’bout those Cowboys?” isn’t really even a question in Dallas. It serves the same purpose as “How you doin’?” further north. It is simply a greeting. You just respond, “How ’bout those Cowboys!” and move on. This is something that came about in Dallas a long time ago, the first time that the Cowboys were America’s Team. There was one man who was pivotal in that happening, and that is Coach Landry.

Not many people in Dallas talk about Tom Landry. They talk about Coach Landry. “Coach” is a title of respect in Dallas (and Texas.) It affords the same respect as “Doctor” or “Colonel”. It is like “Maestro” in Mexico. There is somewhat of a cloud over the title “Father” (which was close to Coach in respect levels) but there is no such cloud over Coach.

Football, and all sports, are important in Texas. We are still in the business of raising men in Texas, and men are raised in no small part on the field of play. Street baseball. Mexican soccer. High School football. That is where Texas grows its men, and those men are raised by Coaches. Coaches are one of the foundations of society in Texas. A lot of men can’t remember who their high school principal was, but they know who the football coach was. When you took Health or Algebra in one of the Coach’s classes, he introduced himself to the class as Mister, but he was called Coach by everyone in the class. They called him Coach because he earned that.

My father coached soccer for about ten years. He had up to four youth teams going at once, and he touched a lot of kids. Soon after a kid got onto the team, he didn’t call him anything but “Coach”. He didn’t teach a lot of soccer. His teams didn’t do a lot of drills. We came to practice and played. He taught sportsmanship. He taught respect. He taught how to be a good loser, and how to be a good winner. He taught self discipline, and how to push for what you want. He was one of the men that taught them, and me, to be men.

He hasn’t coached soccer in about ten years, but he still sees his players around the neighborhood, and they still remember him. They are men now, but they don’t call him his given name. He is still “Coach” to them, long after the team is gone. He is Coach because they respect him. I’m proud of that.

Coach Landry isn’t just a part of Dallas’ history. He is a part of the spirit of Dallas. He wasn’t just a man that we saw a few Sundays in the fall every year. He was more like a part of the Dallas extended family. He was a man that you could respect, and that you couldn’t imagine bringing disrespect to the city. Jerry Jones pissed a lot of people off when he fired Coach Landry. You don’t treat a Coach like that in Dallas.

Dallas has had a lot of men heading the Cowboys since Coach Landry. First, we had Jimmy Johnson. A couple of years later, we had Coach Johnson. We had Barry Switzer. We had Dave Campo. Then Jerry Jones hired Bill Parcells. Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard fewer and fewer people talking about Bill Parcells. They have been talking about Coach Parcells.

I think the Dallas Cowboys have a Coach again.

4 Comments

  1. George says:

    As a lifelong Giants fan, all I can say is:

    Grrrrr….

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