One mo’ time for the Tuna?
According to pro football sources, former New York Jets and New York Giants and New England Patriots coach and current Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has talked to Jets owner Robert (Woody) Johnson about the possibility of coming back to coach the Jets in their Jan. 12 playoff game versus the Oakland Raiders.
“It would be a one-shot deal,” the source said. “He and Woody have talked about it. They had lunch on Staten Island on Jan. 6 at Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria. Tuna snuck in wearing a big hat, had the mushrooms and pepperoni. He’d come in for the big Raider game-and then would go back to Dallas.”
Reached by phone, Parcells adamantly denied that he would coach the Jets again. “I am the coach of Dallas,” he said on Jan. 7. “I don’t know where people get these crazy ideas. You are crazy, really. I told you I was retired. I mean, I am the coach of Tampa-I mean, Dallas.
“I was not on Staten Island on Monday,” said Parcells. “I don’t know Joe and Pat’s Pizzeria. I don’t even know where 1758 Victory Boulevard is.”
Still, the Parcells-to-the-Jets-just-for-the-Raider-game scenario continued to gain momentum this week, when Parcells was seen running drills in his Sea Girt, N.J., backyard with Jets quarterback Chad Pennington and running back Curtis Martin.
“Look, Curtis Martin is my friend,” Parcells said. “He’s entitled to come over and hang out when he wants. But that was not Chad Pennington. That was my pool boy, Billy.”
Parcells, of course, led the Giants to two Super Bowl championships and helped rescue the Jets from obscurity in the late 1990’s. He has flirted with employers in the past, only to turn them down at the last minute-the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brill’s Content -but having him come back to coach Gang Green is a tantalizing possibility hard to pass up.
The deal is not without some potential hurdles. First, the Jets already have a head coach, Herman Edwards. Edwards has done very well in helming the team, but he-as everyone from WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog to the Post ‘s Steve Serby to Fresh Air ‘s Terry Gross has pointed out-is not the Tuna.
At a press conference yesterday, an unworried Edwards told reporters that he fully expects to coach the Jets this weekend.
“I respect Bill Parcells and I trust Bill Parcells,” Edwards said. “I expect when I walk out onto that field, I will be the H.C. of N.Y.J. You won’t catch me Belichickening out.”
Still, if Woody Johnson opts to push Edwards out to install Parcells, there’s yet another roadblock. Parcells would want complete control over the team. That means control over game planning, scouting, personnel, uniforms, concession stands, cheerleaders, half-time entertainment, hairdressing, parade routing and take-your-daughter-to-work day.
“And parking,” Parcells said. “Don’t forget parking. I’m just saying that hypothetically, though.”
“It’s a lot for Woody to give up,” said a league source. “But it’s Bill. There’s only one Bill.”
But others questioned whether Parcells would come back just for one game. Should he prevail against the Raiders, those sources asked, wouldn’t he want to try and lead the Jets all the way to the Super Bowl?
Parcells did agree on this point. “Look, if you come back to do one game, you want to do that second game. I’m just saying that. Don’t read into that. Chad, call me at home. Don’t read into that, either. Chad, call me, baby.”
His Love Don’t Cost a Thing
“Free concert, free drinks upstairs!” two short blond boys called out at the door of Planet Hollywood in Times Square on a recent afternoon. The gratis booze was designed to lure people inside the restaurant to see a little-known songwriter named Vincent James perform a “6 Weeks to Valentine’s” concert-a concert that we’d been told, excitedly, would feature the world premiere of Mr. James’ tribute song to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, “Forever Love.”
After some confusion at the front door as to where in the cavernous Planet H Mr. James was playing, we were led to Sky Box 3, a large circular room overlooking the restaurant’s main dining room, where we spotted Mr. James-a slender, penguin-nosed doppelgänger for Balki, the goofy dude from that Perfect Strangers sitcom-playing the piano in jeans and a gray crewneck. He was accompanied by a slim sidekick strumming on a guitar. There were 20 tables in the room; 18 of them were empty.
Neither Mr. Affleck nor Ms. Lopez was present, but at one table sat Mr. James’ eager-to-please publicist, Karen Ammond of KBC Media Relations, and three young girls with knockoff Fendi bags who knew him from home in Philadelphia. At the other table were two men with cameras and beer bellies who were enjoying their free drinks and watching the movie trailers showing on the screen above Mr. James’ head.
After the close of Mr. James first song-a schmaltzy, slow love ballad which he sang in a deep and earnest voice-the Philly girls started hooting and clapping. “Sounds like 10,000 people in here! It’s great!” Mr. James said optimistically as he brushed his long, dark bangs out of his face.
Mr. James plunged forward with “6 Weeks to Valentine’s.” He introduced one song, “Let Me Be (Your Angel),” by saying: “Everyone needs an angel in their lives. It could be a person, but sometimes it can be an inanimate object.” There was scattered, forced laughter. A few restaurant patrons on their way to the bathroom peered inside, but none stayed. Halfway through, the two blond boys from outside came in and sat down at Ms. Ammond’s table and actually began lip-syncing to Mr. James’ lyrics. Another guest periodically got down on a knee to take pictures.
Finally, it was time to play “Forever Love.” “Here’s a couple that needs a little something that’ll help it last,” Mr. James said. “‘Forever Love,’ for J. Lo and Ben.” He began to ardently sing: “Forever love / Is what I see in you! / Forever love / It always seems brand-new!” And then: “Forever love / Is on the way! / Forever love / Is here to stay!”
When Mr. James finished, there was more hollering from the Philly girls. Then Ms. Ammond looked over at the lone reporter in the room and said to Mr. James, “Can we ask questions?”
“Yes, go ahead,” he said.
“Have you done tours before?” she asked, glancing over at the reporter.
“Yes,” Mr. James said. “A few years ago, we toured eight Barnes & Nobles in one day around Valentine’s, singing love songs in different cities.”
“And whose idea was that?” Ms. Ammond asked.
It was her idea.
This time, Mr. James’ tour had been expanded to over 100 shows in 45 days in restaurants, cafés, malls and bookstores along the East Coast. All of his shows are scheduled around noon.
But Mr. James was undaunted. Ever since he quit his job as a computer programmer for Boeing Helicopters in Philadelphia a year ago, he said after the show, he has been on a full-time quest to be the next Barry Manilow. (“Don’t laugh,” he said.) Now married, he loves writing love songs because they “make people feel something inside. You get the goosebumps.” Mr. James also makes custom love songs for couples who are getting engaged or just want to impress their special someone. “I’m always in tune with love and with couples,” he said.
Like Mr. Affleck and Ms. Lopez, Mr. James is so in tune with couples that when he heard Ms. Lopez announce her engagement to Mr. Affleck to Diane Sawyer late last year, he thought, “It would really be nice for her to have her own custom love song.”
“It’s difficult to find someone,” Mr. James said. “The title ‘Forever Love’ comes from wishing them to have love that lasts forever.”
Mr. James said the lyrics for “Forever Love” were inspired by actual details of Mr. Affleck and Ms. Lopez’s romance. The lines “A thousand lights shining down / Floating petals touch the ground” comes from Mr. Affleck’s proposal: “He proposed to her in Connecticut or Vermont or something with flower petals. I thought that was really beautiful,” Mr. James said. (Mr. Affleck actually proposed to Ms. Lopez at his mother’s home in Cambridge, Mass.)
Had either star heard “Forever Love”? “We sent it to their agents,” Mr. James said. Had he heard anything back? “Well, we only sent it like a week ago.”
Mr. James also confessed that while he wished Mr. Affleck and Ms. Lopez well, he only liked one of them as an artist. “I like her music, but I’m not as much into him,” he said. Did he think they’d last? “Well, she needs someone like him who’s grounded-and he needs someone more wild.
“With any luck, J. Lo and Ben will stay together, have children and be grandparents years from now,” Mr. James said. “Or not.”