Mortensen wasn't the only member of the media Parcells set straight. In a telephone interview with the Palm Beach Post, Parcells said essentially the same thing about Taylor: "He's going to play for us, unless he decides to retire."
Of course, a scant 90 days ago, the same Parcells told the same Mortensen, when discussing Parcells' taking a position with the Falcons, "I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it...I don't think there's any deal breakers here."
As always with Parcells, choice of words is everything. "I'm pretty sure..." and "I don't think..." gave Parcells the wiggle room to later change course and take the position with the Dolphins while retaining his sense of honor by not having lied to the press. Nothing was definitive and had we all listened carefully to exactly what he said, we might have been able to foresee the escape clause Parcells crafted.
Now, in the case of Taylor's status with the Dolphins, I just can't get past the wording of Parcells' denials: "...if he retires." "...unless he decides to retire."
Is Parcells telling us something here?
Parcells always chooses his words carefully. It was no slip of the tongue when he called Terry Glenn "she" and it was not by accident that he referred to Terrell Owens as "the player" or "he" for most of their time together in Dallas.
Like his good friend Bob Knight, Parcells is loathe to share inside information with outsiders, including (especially?) the press. He believes he is smarter than all reporters and seems to take great pleasure in planting these word-bombs that detonate at some future date. He stands fast by his original comments, only afterward emphasizing the loopholes through which he can later slither.
Because Parcells used essentially the same words when speaking with two different reporters about Taylor's status, I have to stop and wonder if there was a reason for it. If so, I can only surmise that Parcells chose these words because decisions about Taylor's retirement have already been made.
Taylor's appearance on "Dancing with the Stars" is the perfect way for him to make the transition from gridiron to the bright lights of Hollywood. Cole reports that Taylor has even moved his home to Los Angeles, presumably in anticipation of life after football.
Parcells came to town and trimmed Miami's roster with a chainsaw, even unceremoniously cutting fan favorite Zack Thomas loose. Of course, Thomas very quickly signed by Dallas, which Parcells formerly coached. It isn't too far fetched to consider that Parcells offered both Thomas and Taylor the chance to retire as Dolphins but Thomas wanted to play on, so the team gave him an out, allowing him to leave the team without damaging his reputation with the fans. Taylor, on the other hand, may have simply decided he was willing to call it quits so he could move onto the next, Tiki Barber-like phase of his life.
Of course, this is all speculation. Some may even call it "journalistic irresponsibility."
But Parcells' carefully worded, albeit passionately delivered, comments to the media seem too precise to be mere coincidence. Tacking on "if he retires" and "unless he decides to retire" give gives Parcells the perfect out when Taylor announces his retirement from football during the finale of "Dancing."
Ain't showbiz grand?