One Last Score For Bill Parcells; The Decency of Pat Summit

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Today in sports: Sean Payton is trying to lure Bill Parcells out of retirement to coach the Saints, Tebowmania takes the track, and Pat Summitt coached what might have been her final game.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is lobbying masterless NFL samurai Bill Parcells to coach the team on an interim basis for the 2012 season while Payton serves out his year-long suspension for the late Bountygate unpleasantness. Payton was an assistant coach under Parcells for three years in Dallas, and has called him a mentor and father figure on various occasions, a fact he's reminding everyone of as he heads out on the first leg of his mea culpa tour. Parcells is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. He's also 70-years-old and has a distinct strain of coaching wanderlust that took him to four different franchises in 22 seasons as a head coach. Taking over a Super Bowl-caliber team for a single year would seem to be an ideal situation if Parcells wanted to return without the grinding stress of having to worry about his longterm future. Payton told reporters he planned to meet with Parcells in Palm Beach in the coming days -- maybe as early as Tuesday -- to discuss bringing him in. Parcells told Sports Illustrated's Peter King yesterday that he doesn't currently have "the bug" to get back into coaching, though he left the door suitably wide open by adding, "I don't think so." King presents a compelling argument that Parcells -- a confirmed football junkie, who has tried and failed to retire three times already -- should view any offer from the Saints as "a once-in-a-lifetime 10-month adventure, after which he could slide back into his semi-retirement, which is heavy on baseball and horse racing." What's the downside? We keep thinking about a passage early on in Michael Lewis' fantastic 2006 New York Times Magazine piece, "What Keeps Bill Parcells Awake At Night." Here, Lewis describes the coach's reaction hours after a sloppy Cowboys loss:

After the late-night flight home from Jacksonville, [Parcells] went to his condo to catch a few hours’ sleep. He woke up not long after he nodded off, choking on his own bile. “It only happens to me during the football season,” he says. “It happens no other time of the year. And it wasn’t something I ate.” After that, he couldn’t sleep at all. He found that his ex-wife, Judy — they divorced in 2002, after 40 years of marriage — had left a message on his answering machine. She saw the game on TV. “Please don’t let it affect your health,” she said.

And that's why coming back is tough, and will probably be a no-go for Bill Parcells. To be where he needs to be, to be able to weather the 3 a.m. moments when the sheer number of things to be fixed makes sleep and normal digestion impossible, requires emotional recalibration. King calls it a 10-month adventure, which is what coaching the high-flying Saints seems like to fans and even other coaches currently in the arena. But Bill Parcells is out, and has been out for four years. Like Michael Corleone, somebody is pulling him back in. But it's not a hard pull. He can resist it. If he wants to. [Sports Illustrated]

Dunking Baylor Bears center Brittney Griner was ejected from the team's regional finals win over Tennessee with 46.8 seconds left in the game after she left the bench Odyssey Sims and Tennessee's Shekkina Strickland crashed to the floor and ultimately had to be separated by the officials. No punches were thrown, and Griner won't face suspension for Baylor's Final Four matchup. [AP]

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When University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia last summer, she vowed to continue coaching for three more years. She may do precisely that, but with the uncertainty in the air, people are not unreasonably treating last night's loss as potentially the final game for the winningest coach in college basketball history. ESPN's Mechelle Voepel recalls Summit as someone who always had a few extra minutes for a cub reporter on the make.Factor in the degree to which she advanced the viability of women's athletics, not to mention the University of Tennessee, and she's a hero, the way good coaches can be. "We don't know for sure now what Summitt's future holds in basketball," concedes Voepel. "But we know the past is overflowing with the most profound kind of success." [ESPN]

The Kobe Bryant-led mutiny against first-year Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown has been less than successful, mainly because Brown now seems to realize he can just bench Bryant whenever he wants. He did exactly this during the final four minutes of the team's loss to Memphis on Sunday. The Lakers return to the court tonight against Golden State, and despite Brown's insistance that the benching was not in fact a benching, it totally was. Bryant, for his part, was either duly chastened or in the early stages of plotting out an elaborate scheme for revenge. When asked for comment by reporters, Bryant replied ""I can't start doing something crazy now. It would make no sense." Sounds reasonable, in a lightly crazy way. [Los Angeles Times]

Even the animals love Tim Tebow. That's not entirely true: the people who name animals -- specifically, thoroughbred race horses -- love Tim Tebow. In other words, rich, human people. According to The Jockey Club, which keeps tabs on such things, there are six prize horses out there in America somewhere with Tebow incorporated into their names. According to the AP, the six-known Tebow-affiliated horses are: "Tebow Go, Tebow Gator, Tebow Time, Tebows Big Play, and naturally, Tebowing and Tebowmania." [AP]

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