* I gag sometimes when I must give credit to Bully Bill, but here goes: Some props to Parcells for "creating'' so-called "Parcells Guys.'' Most coaches are creatures of habit, which explains why speculation about a new offensive coordinator skips right over "name brands'' like Mike Martz and instead focuses on Chris Palmer, a long-time "Parcells Guy.'' But I'm impressed that the head coach has found ways to have top assistants be "made'' and not just "born.'' Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, now likely staying in Dallas after interviewing elsewhere, qualifies. So does an emerging top defensive aide, Todd Bowles. Neither Zimmer or Bowles "grew up'' with Parcells; instead, they and he have worked hard to be on the same page. Same thing on offense, where Payton was not truly a "Parcells guy,'' but sort of became one. Moving up the offensive ladder, we believe, will be Todd Haley, part of the Parcells family tree. A gifted guy just a notch lower on the totem pole is running backs coach Anthony Lynn. He's been here just one season, yet you can see that relationship develop with the boss.
* Yes, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was prepared to sign a one-year re-up with flagship radio station KLUV-FM -- but for almost one-fourth of the usual fee. Well, now I hear the reason that deal has fallen through: Jerry is upset that the somewhat embarrassing dollar figures leaked out. So what does Jerry do now? Buying a radio station at this late date seems unlikely. It would probably be easier to forge a quickie relationship with a radio company that has an established radio network throughout Texas, deal with that for one season, and then in 2007 launch a well-conceived plan that could include a radio station that is a Cowboys property.
* This week "Glory Road'' dominated at the box office, MLK Jr. Day dominated our thoughts and the mayor of New Orleans called for a "chocolate'' city. And I'm thinking Pat Robertson must've had a busy week secretly promising to smite 'em all.
* Not long ago, conventional wisdom held that the baddest boys, the worst behave'ers, were your Dallas Cowboys. Recently, the Minnesota Vikings injected themselves into the misbehavior contest. I've long believed that there are 32 teams that employ athletes who behave in ways they wouldn't want to tell their mothers about, and every day my argument is given more exhibits. Or didn't you notice that the almost-undefeated and almost-sainted Colts have a starting cornerback with a knife wound in his knee? Or didn't you notice that the NFC Championship Game entrant Seahawks probably need to keep bail money at hand, just in case?
And if you look hard enough, you'll find the Steelers and the Broncos and the Panthers have skeletons in their closet, White Houses in their neighborhoods and Love Boats at their docks. I promise you they do.
* My conventional wisdom: You are a basketball player second, you are a man first. And so if you see your wife getting assaulted in the stands -- or even if you think that's what you see -- you don't even stop for a moment to consider the NBA suspension of you that is certainly coming. You think only of her safety. But, as the Knicks' Antonio Davis is in the process of learning, sometimes it can be the wife who is harrassing the fan.
* If you believe that the freedom given ex-OU coach-turned-Cowboys assistant Gary Gibbs to leave Valley Ranch to join Payton is some sort of sign of dissatisfaction with Gibbs' work with the Cowboys, you believe right.
* Yes, the Patriots had won 10 straight playoff games. That's a "dynasty,'' right? Well, why didn't anybody mention that stuck in between those three seasons of success was a year in which New England didn't even make the playoffs? I mean, of course they didn't lose any playoff games that year. ... they didn't play any!
* The 2007 NHL All-Star Game is coming to Dallas, and with Stars exec Jim Lites and staff handling details, it ought to come off without a hitch. ... unless Mayor Miller somehow gets involved.
* So the Final Four QBs are Delhomme, Hasselbeck, Plummer and Roethlisberger, and since none of them was a first-pick-in-the-draft guy, that's proof that you don't need a great quarterback to win, right?
No offense, Tim Cowlishaw. But wrong. Ridiculously wrong.
Think in a non-linear way with us for a moment: If you can get to the Final Four with ex-mid-round picks and street free agents and previous-life flops, think what you could do with a Troy Aikman? The advance to the Final Four of teams without Aikmans make it look like you can do it without one. In fact, all it really does is emphasize how ahead-of-the-game a team would be -- and ahead of Carolina, Seattle, Denver and Pittsburgh, too -- with a true franchise QB.
* Mavs 101, Clippers 81, in LA on Friday night. ... and the Clippers are supposed to be a contender? The Mavericks led by 25 points early in the third quarter and cruised to their seventh win in the last eight games. In those seven games, Dallas has scored at last 101 points six times and 110 points four times. (And 115 in a loss.) The Mavs have at different times during this streak allowed opponents 79, 77, 95, 76 and 81 points. That's five games with 95 or fewer, four games with 81 or fewer! In the last four games, the Mavs have scored 428 points and allowed 329. Average score in the last four: 107-82.
Super Terrific Happy Hour, I tell ya.
* I'm always amused (and no longer amazed) at the "draft experts'' who pretend they know which player will go where and to which team -- especially when they attempt to do so in, say, December. You'll recall in this space some skepticism regarding Matt Leinhart as the "lock as No. 1'' back in November, not because we don't like Leinhart, but because it was simply too early to make such a declaration. And son of a gun, a month later he wasn't even the best player on his own team. And by the time we get to the Scouting Combine, there will be people you've never heard of creeping up on Leinhart and the rest, too. Trust me on this: This week, I talked casually to a Baltimore scout, a Dallas staffer, a Chargers assistant and a Denver assistant coach. None of their teams have assembled a "Big Board'' ranking players in prospective draft order. If the Ravens, Cowboys, Chargers and Broncos don't bother having a projected draft order, how can you believe Mel Kiper Jr.'s?
* Fox football guy and former Cowboys diabolical jackass Jimmy Johnson thinks he's one hep cat with his recent fluffed-up 'do. And to think, the last time we checked, Jimmy Jenius' long-time girlfriend is a hair stylist!!