FANS of United States football worldwide will be settling in to watch the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills battle for the Superbowl title in Pasadena, Calif., this Sunday.
We wish both teams well. But we'd also like to pause for a moment to consider what is happening at the bottom of the NFL with our own New England Patriots.
1992 was not pretty. Coming off a 6-wins, 10-losses season in '91, the team plunged deeper into the hole, ending last season at 2 and 14. Many running backs can only wish to gain the yards the Pats lost to penalties: By game 15, penalties for the season cost the team 1,011 yards, according to one local tally. Fumbles? The Pats led the league with 26. Uncertainties over ownership and possible relocation added to the problems.
Enter Bill Parcells, who signed on as the new head coach last week. The man who took the New York Giants to two Superbowl victories in five years has roots here; he served as the Patriots' linebacker coach in 1980. On Wednesday he finished rounding out his coaching staff.
The players are excited about working for him. Who wouldn't want to work for a coach who comes in saying: "I told these gentlemen when I interviewed that I wasn't interested in a competitive team. But if you're interested in a championship team, I'm your man." And the fans? They're buying season tickets in record numbers.
Parcells has his work cut out for him. But watch this space. With his skill, a first-round draft pick, and an easy schedule in '93 to start rebuilding, in a few years we just might be wishing the folks in Foxboro well in the Big Game.