A Great Soap Opera Featuring Clint Murchison, Jr.!

Clint MurchisonAnne MurchisonGil BrandtI started reading Landry’s Boys: An Oral History of a Team and an Era by Peter Golenbock a few weeks ago, and I’ve found the football discussion to be quite fascinating. But that was before I learned of the little history behind former owner Clint Murchison, Jr., former director of personnel Gil Brandt, and Brandt’s one-time (low-life?…aw, no) wife Anne Ferrell Brandt. Here’s the excerpt:

In 1972, [Murchison's] wife Jane divorced him. After the divorce Murchison admitted that his womanizing wasn’t as much fun.

By the midseventies Clint found he was having some difficulty making love to his lady of the night, so he added cocaine to his vices when he discovered its power to aid him in lovemaking. Like some of his players who were chastised for their drug use, by the midseventies Clint Murchison was also acting erratically. He had tongues wagging when he started seeing Anne Ferrell Brandt, the wife of his chief scout, Gil Brandt, and the tongue ran faster when Anne divorced Gil and in June 1975 Anne and Clint announced they would marry. Clint became Anne’s fourth husband. And though Gil lost his wife, he didn’t lose his job.

So what does Mrs. Ferrell-Brandt-Murchison do with her life? She writes Christian books! Of course! You can read all about it at AnneMurchison.com. But I’m not going to read her books. Something about the adultery part that bugs me. I’m sure she’s forgiven, though.

I was quite a bit less excited to discover that Skip Bayless already tried to cover this, for Skip Bayless is one of four or five people whom I would like to see get run over by a truck. But here is what ESPN noted:

Bayless probed the relationship in his book. What caught his attention was a curious coincidence that later became an issue when the club was sold. “As Mrs. Gil Brandt became Mrs. Clint Murchison in 1975,” he reported, “Murchison promised Brandt lifetime security as the Cowboys’ personnel director.” Insiders had it that the young woman, before marrying Brandt, had been one of Murchison’s many mistresses and that she’d continued to see him during the marriage. Did Brandt know what was going on? “Gil was always very eager to please Clint,” Bayless was told by a Murchison associate.

Grrrr… I’ve been scooped.


I was a little bit quicker to note the other day something about Terry Glenn’s fourth-quarter fumble. Here is what I wrote:

It probably would have been better to have given up a touchdown on the Terry Glenn fumble in the fourth quarter than to have given up a safety. That cut the Dallas lead to 20-15, and the Seahawks ensuing touchdown gave them a one-point lead. If the score had been tied at 20, it would have been a slightly different story when the Cowboys got the ball back.

Well, Mickey Spagnola gave a little bit better explanation, albeit a full day later:

Now some food for thought: The Cowboys in the end would have been better off if they had never challenged the ruling or if [referee Walt] Anderson had decided “the ruling on the field stands.” That way Seattle would only have scored seven points to tie the game, not the eventual eight following the missed two-point conversion to take a one-point lead . . . .

That proved to be the difference in the game.

Sometimes you just can’t win.

Nope, not this decade.

Indicting Bill Parcells

ParcellsAlthough I’ve teetered back-and-forth on this all season– and really towards the end of last season– I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer think that Bill Parcells offers the best chance for the Cowboys to be successful in the short-term or in the long-term. This comes from the person who named his fantasy football teams in previous seasons as follows: “In Tuna We Trust” (2003), “Big Tuna, Year 2″ (2004), and “Faith in the Big Tuna” (2005). Faith, no more.

So for what little it is worth, here is my indictment of Bill Parcells, borrowing liberally from my own posts on the forums in the past couple of days:

Elements of Good Coaching

What is it that a team is looking for in a head coach? I, for one, think that coaches in all sports take a little bit too much blame for their losses and a little bit too much credit for their successes, but there are certainly some elements that we could identify:

– Put the right talent on the field in the right systems.
– Delegate responsibilities to competent assistants.
– Ensure that players are prepared for the tasks at hand.
– Minimize distractions to the team.
– Maximize team discipline.
– Build team confidence.
– Don’t panic when the game gets into pressure situations.
– Take chances when appropriate.
– Don’t take unnecessary chances when the risk greatly outweighs the reward.

There are more, of course. My question, though, has been whether Parcells has satisfied each of these elements during the past four years, given that he is a Hall-of-Fame coach and given the expectations that were placed in him when he came here. I don’t think he has.

The 2003 season was somewhat magical in that he took a team that had gone 5-11 for three seasons and built it into a winner. But even that 2003 season was a little bit misleading, for if you disregard the 5-1 start, you have a 5-5 finish– really, a mediocre football team. And since that time, the team has never played like a confident football team and never really played like a disciplined football team. Parcells seems to make a concerted effort to keep his players’ egos in check, but he does not seem to be able to take steps to ensure that their play remains strong for an entire season. When 7-3 becomes 9-7 one year, and 8-4 becomes 9-7 the next year, there are some organizational problems.

If Not Bill, Then Who?

Part of the problem with the debate over whether Parcells should remain is that none of us will be able to identify a candidate who will guarantee anything, so it is really a matter of whether the Cowboys want to take a risk. I do not think that the Cowboys will do any better if Parcells remains, given that he has not met the burden of proving that he can get more out of this team. The question is really this: do we want the Cowboys to remain stagnant and mediocre, struggling to get to 9-7 or 10-6? That is the most likely scenario if Parcells stays, for he has failed to prove that he can do otherwise. Or do we want to hope that somebody new can get more out of this talent, knowing the risk that (a) the team could perform exactly how it has under Parcells, or even (b) the team could take some backwards steps while a new coach tries to implement new ideas. Really no different than a decision about whether to hire a new C.E.O.: simple risk/reward analysis.

I am convinced that Parcells believes that his systems work, that his methods work, and that he is not going to make changes or relinquish any authority in order to try new ideas. And the bottom line is that what he has done simply is not working, because the team has not performed at a level that its talent level suggests that it should.

People want to revisit the fact that he did better than Dave Campo. But that doesn’t address the facts that Campo didn’t have control over the draft, that the team lost two first-round picks due to the Joey Galloway trade, that the Cowboys didn’t have cap money when Campo was coaching, and that Campo didn’t have control over his assistant coaches. Here is a question: how well would Campo have done if he had everything (authority, money) that Parcells has had. I would venture to say that he wouldn’t have done much worse, because Parcells made several of the same coaching mistakes that Campo made, but Parcells had more talent. That’s not a vote of confidence for Campo, but is rather a vote of no-confidence in Parcells.

What Is the Bottom Line?

Bill Parcells has made $20 million or so and has been given free reign to build the team however he wants to build it. Overspend for Anthony Henry? Sure. Overspend for Marco Rivera? Sure. Same with Jason Ferguson? Sure. Use most of the meaningful picks in two drafts so that the team can convert to the 3-4, even though the defensive coordinator has never run the 3-4? Sure.

I’ve heard a few people try to say, “Gosh, just look at the team he’s put together.” Yeah, look at it. The team had one significant injury all season, and yet it had glaring holes all over the place– nobody was capable of rushing the passer, the defense wasn’t quite sure what the purpose of a blitz is, the offensive line can’t seem to remember assignments on a regular basis, the secondary…. well, you know.

Parcells’ past is absolutely meaningless right now. A Super Bowl championship for the rival New York Giants in 1986 doesn’t hide the fact that his Dallas teams have grossly underachieved in the past three seasons. Same is true for the 1990 Giants, the 1996 Patriots, and the 1998 Jets. His Hall-of-Fame resume needs those teams’ records on there, because what he has done here hardly merits consideration for Canton.

Bill, you’ve done all you can here. It’s time for you to go.


“The Botch,” Reviewed Yet Again

I didn’t make it up, of course, but I would much prefer that the end of the Seattle game have a name: “The Botch.” Buy it? I personally don’t feel any better about the game, but I’ll buy that name. And here it is, in its entirety: ———— From the Houston Chronicle: “Amazing!” shouted Al […]

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Season-Ending Answers on The Day After

Remember the made-for-TV movie, The Day After, showing the effects of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union? The moral of that story: nuclear war destroys everything, radiation sickness is just as bad as dying in the blast, and altogether nothing good comes from it. I’m sure there were other morals […]

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The Last of the Painful Highlights for This Season

My wife informed me that she couldn’t believe I was watching the replay of this game on NFL Network. Well, on top of that, I am subjecting my visitors to the same stuff! And here is as much of the story as I can handle: All Tony Romo had to do was put the ball […]

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Collapse, and Season Over: Seattle 21, Dallas 20

How is it that I use the name kickholder on here even though I haven’t actually been a kick holder since high school (er… I guess I did hold some kicks on the practice squad in college, but that is beside the point)? And how does the Cowboys season end? On a dropped snap by […]

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Some Cause for Excitement: Dallas 10, Seattle 6

Let’s not get carried away, but Dallas has done some things in the first half that it simply hasn’t in the past month: – Generated a little bit of pressure. No, Hasselbeck hasn’t been sacked, but the defense has forced him to make passes. – The secondary is making some plays, including an interception by […]

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Questions Waiting for Answers: Playoff Edition with Videos Galore!

Playoff games aren’t as regular for the Cowboys as they used to be, so we might as well be excited no matter what might have happened over the past month or so. Care for a walk back through history? Here is a video that was posted on the Dallas Cowboys website today. Great stuff: ———— […]

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10 Minutes To Know Your Dallas Cowboys, Episode 9

Sorry for not getting this posted more quickly. But here is the playoff edition of 10 Minutes… In this episode, Gnome tries to adopt a strategy from the television series Dallas and treat the last four games as if they were nothing but a bad dream. It doesn’t work as planned, but Gnome is confident […]

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A Not-Much-To-Report-About Report

We all know what’s coming up, and we all seem to know what questions about the Cowboys need to be answered (Question Waiting for Answers will have to wait until tomorrow). This week has becoming a bit mind-numbing while thinking about this game. A few people have continued to argue that it was good that […]

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