News: Archer: Chapter unfinished, but Parcells, Vinny on same page

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    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Chapter unfinished, but Parcells, Vinny on same page

    12:21 AM CDT on Saturday, August 7, 2004

    By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

    OXNARD, Calif. – They do not need words to communicate. Just a look will suffice. Or a nod.

    Once again, Bill Parcells and Vinny Testaverde are working together as coach and starting quarterback. The coach from New Jersey and the quarterback from Long Island know what each other is thinking. Maybe before the other is even thinking it.

    "Hey, if you grew up where I grew up and where he grew up, you speak the language pretty easily," Parcells said. "So he gets it."

    Parcells trusts Testaverde completely. Testaverde trusts Parcells completely.

    Testaverde would not have signed with the Cowboys, even if the starting quarterback job was up for debate, without Parcells stalking the sideline. Parcells would not have signed him without their previous working relationship.

    "He's not changed at all," Testaverde said. "He's still the same with the players. He still has the same fire he had when we were back in New York."

    Their relationship began on June 24, 1998, when Testaverde signed as a free agent with Parcells' New York Jets, and it seemed a curious relationship because Testaverde, while physically talented, never became the player many thought he would be as the No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft after being a Heisman Trophy winner.

    Only once before had Testaverde led a team to the playoffs (Cleveland, in 1994). Only four times had he thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. In his last three years as a starter in Cleveland and Baltimore, he won only 12 games.

    He equaled that number in 1998, leading the Jets to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to Denver. He finished with 29 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, while throwing for 3,256 yards.

    "On a lot of other teams I was with, you had to be able to handle the other players and make sure they were getting the job done," Testaverde said. "But with Bill, he's going to do that and you can focus on your job and your job alone."

    To keep up with the Jets' off-season program, Testaverde bought a private jet and commuted from his Florida home to Long Island. When Testaverde was cut by the Jets this June, Parcells knew Testaverde's daily regimen and knew conditioning would not be a factor.

    When the Cowboys showed up in Oxnard last week, Parcells knew Testaverde would be ready, even at age 40, for the rigors of training camp.

    And when Parcells told him he was the Cowboys' starter after Quincy Carter was waived, they did not need a formal conversation. They were just a couple of guys from New York and New Jersey.

    "You giving me my boxing gloves back?" Testaverde said.

    "You want 'em?" Parcells answered.

    "That's what I came here for," Testaverde said.

    Concessions will be made because of age. Once Parcells believes Testaverde is ready for the season, he will cut down his work in training camp and the preseason games. If Testaverde needs a break, he needs to tell Parcells.

    Before the Sept. 12 season opener at Minnesota, Testaverde needs to earn the trust of his teammates like he has his coach, but for the former Jets on the Cowboys, that should not be a problem.

    "Every person who plays the game should try and watch this guy and how he goes about his business," fullback Richie Anderson said. "If you do it like he does it, then you'll give yourself a shot. The guy is the ultimate professional to me. The way he works, the way he stays in physical condition, his intelligence for the game. The guys will rally around him, for sure."

    The last time Parcells coached Testaverde in a regular-season game, Testaverde tore his left Achilles' tendon in the 1999 season opener against New England, ending his season and essentially the Jets' chances of going to the Super Bowl.

    The Jets fought back to an 8-8 record, but by 2000, Parcells had retired, Keyshawn Johnson had been traded, and the chance was lost.

    Five years later, they would like to finish the deal together.

    "That one game in Denver, we had it for three quarters, but it wasn't meant to be for whatever reason," Testaverde said of the AFC title game on Jan. 17, 1999. "When you go through something like that and you can almost taste how good it is, it keeps you hungry and want it more to come back and do it again."

    E-mail tarcher@**************


    Vinny Testaverde signed as a free agent with the New York Jets under Bill Parcells in 1998. Key moments from the quarterback's two seasons with Parcells:

    • In his first start, Testaverde threw for four TDs in a 44-6 victory over the Colts.

    • Completed 42 of 63 passes for 418 yards and two TDs to beat the Seahawks, 32-31.

    • Again threw for four TDs, topping the Patriots, 31-10.

    • Finished 12-1 as a starter in the regular season.

    • Threw for 284 yards to lead NY past the Jaguars, 34-24, and into the AFC title game, where they lost, 23-10, to the Broncos.

    • Injured in the second quarter of the season opener and missed the remainder of the season

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