MIAMI — Bill Parcells has again reduced his role with the Miami Dolphins: He stopped coming to work.
Parcells cleared out his office and no longer works at the team complex, but the Dolphins said he’ll continue as a consultant to general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano.
“Whether he is physically here or not is really immaterial to the contributions that he will make on an ongoing basis,” chief executive officer Mike Dee said Tuesday. “From the football operations point of view, it really is business as usual. Nothing has really changed.”
However, the 69-year-old Parcells’ role has become even more limited since he gave control of the football operation to Ireland shortly before the season. At that time, the Dolphins said Parcells would remain involved daily, but that may no longer be the case.
“The role is fluid,” Dee said, “and how it shapes going forward is Bill’s decision.” Dee wouldn’t speculate about whether Parcells is likely to help with next year’s draft.
Parcells was hired nearly three years ago by owner Wayne Huizenga, who subsequently sold the team to Stephen Ross. Dolphins radio announcer Jim Mandich, who won two Super Bowl rings with the team as a player, was among those to complain that Parcells is stepping back with his job unfinished.
“When somebody comes in and they don’t respect or revere or treat our franchise like they love it — I never had the feeling Bill Parcells was emotionally engaged,” Mandich said at the weekly fan luncheon he hosts. “He was a hired gun. He was a personality. He came in; he leaves two years later. I feel like taking Listerine and washing my mouth out, because it doesn’t feel good to me.”
Ross hasn’t commented publicly since Parcells handed over control to Ireland. Dee described as “not accurate” speculation that a rift developed between Parcells and Ross, Ireland or Sparano, prompting the transition in control.
“I think Bill just decided it was the right time,” Dee said. “There were no adversarial, contentious issues I’m aware of between ownership or anybody. This is a group that continues to work closely together. Jeff and Tony are here together because of Bill.”
Parcells was hired as Miami staggered to the end of a 1-15 season in 2007, and Ireland and Sparano came aboard shortly thereafter.
The Dolphins staged a remarkable turnaround in 2008, when they went 11-5 and won the AFC East, but they finished a disappointing 7-9 last season. They’re 3-2 this season going into Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.
“I speak for Steve when I say we love the team we have,” Dee said. “Tony and Jeff have Steve’s full confidence. It has been that way since Steve got here, and especially in the last six weeks.”
Parcells worked a full schedule his first two years in Miami. He arrived early each day, watched practices from a golf cart, poured over video of games and offered players frequent feedback.
That routine ended at the conclusion of this year’s training camp, but Parcells has continued to attend some practices.
“You’ve still got to watch over your shoulder, because you know he could be standing there,” Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long said. “You’ve still got to play well.”
“We kind of took it for granted because we saw him every day,” linebacker Channing Crowder said. “There were little things where he pulled me aside and told me how to take on a block or something different. It’s an honor to be able to say that I learned something from Bill Parcells.”
A four-year contract allows Parcells to depart at any time and collect the balance of the $12 million due him. The deal expires after the 2011 season.
Parcells rarely speaks to the media, but in a conference call with reporters last month, he said he expects to find something to keep him busy when he leaves the Dolphins. Some took the comments as a signal he’s in the market for a new job.
“I’m not a ‘sit-around-the-fireplace’ guy,” Parcells said. “We’ll see what happens when the time comes, but I know I want to do something, even if it’s not day to day.”
As a coach, Parcells took over losing teams with the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys and transformed them into winners. He won five division titles in 19 seasons and led the Giants to two Super Bowl championships.