Miami Dolphins-New Orleans Saints: Fighting For The Love Of The Tuna

Jeffrey RobertsCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2009

DAVIE, FL - JUNE 06:  Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells watches practice on during Miami Dolphins Mini Camp on June 6, 2008 at the Dolphins practice facility in Davie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Bill Parcells.

Oh, you sly fox.

People may be fooled into thinking this Miami-New Orleans game is just about football. But it's so much more.

It's two sons fighting for their father's affections, and it's going to be a bitter family affair.

I'll elaborate.

Bill Parcells was a football coach. He was a great football coach. The people who coached underneath him during his career went on to their own coaching careers of varying success.

Coaches like Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, and the perpetually furious Todd Haley all coached under The Tuna. And, so did Sean Payton and Tony Sparano.


Payton and Sparano joined Parcells during the Dallas phase of his career. For Parcells, he was at the experimental stage, he had been around long enough to realize he needed to embiggen his legend.

He was like a famous band that starts taking drugs to find inspiration. Why else would he take a job with a team that had been among his staunchest rivals while with the Giants? Don't say drugs either. That was just a metaphor.

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In Dallas, Parcells cemented himself as The Retunavator. He was the cooler, he was Swayze in Roadhouse. You brought him in and he started dropping the bad guys until you were a winner (even though Dallas didn't win a playoff game).

Sean Payton joined Parcells in Dallas in 2003. During his stay, he helped Parcells win games by turning Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde, and Drew Bledsoe into serviceable quarterbacks. Payton was Parcells' golden boy, and he was rewarded by being promoted to assistant head coach.

In 2004, Payton was offered the Oakland Raiders head coaching position. With Parcells' tutelage, he politely declined (or just resisted the urge to vomit in his mouth). He would listen to Dad...for now.

The temptation of head coaching is a seductive beast. It's like a grizzly bear that buys you drinks. Either you come with it peacefully and with a buzz, or you take a paw to the face and get dragged off anyway.

So it shouldn't surprise you (seeing as we live in this crazy future), that Payton eventually took a head coaching job. In 2006, the New Orleans Saints welcomed Parcells' prodigy to the Big Easy.

Payton wasted no time in sticking it to his former boss by schwacking the Cowboys 42-17 with his Saints during the 2006 season. The bond between them was severed. And yes, I am being overdramatic.

Tony Sparano joined the Dallas Cowboys with Payton in 2003, as a tight ends coach. During his stay he helped develop Jason Witten and spruce up the offensive line. And guess who was there to assume the playcalling duties after Payton left?

It wasn't Payton. Why? Because I just told you that he left. PAY ATTENTION.

It was Tony Sparano.

He stayed behind to assist Parcells while Payton was off tossing beads in Ol' Swampy. And because Parcells is a loving football god, he rewarded Sparano with the head coaching job in Miami after he moved there.

This sets up a showdown between the guy who stayed with Parcells, and his prodigy who left for greener pastures.

It's a modern day prodigal son story.

Payton is the son who bailed to whoop it up, and Sparano is the son who stayed behind to work the fields and whatnot. Now the two are squaring off over the fatted calf.

Both have succeeded through their various routes, but only one can win the love of The Tuna.

It's a coaching showdown of the highest caliber. The former teacher's pet takes on the current one. It's the story that Hollywood refuses to make (having rejected my screenplay countless times).

And at the end of the day, the winner will be Bill Parcells. He has brought two more great coaches into the league, and they hope to do him proud come Sunday. Parcells' legacy is stamped on the NFL like a lower back tattoo on the promiscuous.

And there's no better way to put it.



-The Miami Dolphins are 6-3 lifetime against the Saints. The last time they played was in 2005, where they triumphed 21-6, with Ronnie Brown rushing for 106 yards.

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