IRVING – It is his single-minded focus on football that makes Bill Parcells one of the game's finest coaches. It is that same single-mindedness that propels him toward burnout and repeated retirements from the demanding profession. And it's that same single-mindedness that got Parcells into trouble Monday when he delivered a remark that most would interpret as a racial slur at the Japanese. Parcells is regarded as one of the smartest people in football. As a reminder that smart people can say really dumb things, Parcells had this to say about his quarterbacks coach, Sean Payton. "No disrespect to the Orientals, but Sean's got a few of what we call 'Jap' plays. OK? Surprise things," Parcells said. "No disrespect to anyone." This came out of the blue during about a 45-minute media session broadcast live on local radio. It's not like it was a frivolous comment tossed off to one reporter. The man delivers two or three 30- to 45-minute media conferences a week during the season. He does a few more lengthy sessions during mini-camps and quarterback schools in the off-season. He worked for ESPN. If anyone knows how to manipulate the media, Parcells is the man. Miami linebacker Junior Seau recently got into hot water for using a derogatory term toward gays during a speech. Seau, a Hall-of-Fame-bound veteran, should know better. Parcells, who has been coaching in the NFL longer than Seau has been playing, really should know better. He has had a free ride in Dallas because he had the good sense to arrive as the curtains were being drawn on the Dave Campo "5-11 Now and Forever" era. A guy comes here with that kind of Super Bowl résumé, delivers 10 wins in his first season, he can pretty much have the run of the place. No criticism for not drafting the top running back on the board, Oregon State's Steven Jackson, after he falls into Dallas' lap. No criticism for not adding a starting cornerback in a division where Terrell Owens, Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard and Laveranues Coles must be contained. But if you're Parcells, you can't start throwing around slurs that, even if they are going to be blown out of proportion, have the capacity to wound. Akira Kuboshima, editor of American Football Magazine in Japan was at Valley Ranch on Monday working on a story about the Cowboys. He didn't want to be part of the story. He said he didn't personally take offense at Parcells' words. "I don't want others to hear these things," he said. "I admire coach Parcells. There are lots of Cowboys fans in Japan. "I don't have any bad feelings, but I think there's a possibility that a lot of people will be offended." Kuboshima said Parcells came over to him before Monday's workout and offered what he thought was meant to be an apology. "I don't know, we got interrupted," he said. Parcells later issued a statement apologizing "to anyone who may have been offended." Parcells has been down a similar road before, when he referred to Terry Glenn, then with the Patriots as "she." This is a little different. In most cases, my feeling is people need to take things lightly when it comes to thoughtless remarks. But even if you believe that, you also have to recognize that you can't walk in everybody's shoes. I can't say what should or shouldn't be offensive to a group that I'm not part of. Statements regarding Japanese and "surprise" plays are obvious references to Pearl Harbor. Whatever Parcells' reflections on World War II might be, he was less than four months old when the attack in Hawaii took place. Most of those with a more personal stake in that conflict have moved past it. He should, too. There is a fundamental difference between hate speech and careless speech. This obviously was the latter. But the fact that Parcells bookended his remarks with "No disrespect" or "no offense" doesn't wipe the slate clean. In fact, a good rule of thumb in public speaking is that if you have to put disclaimers at both ends of a statement, you might want to think twice about making the statement in the first place. Parcells, who is better than most coaches at keeping problems and controversy "in house," should have done the same with his term for trick plays.