Parcells apologized for making ethnic remark

Updated: June 9, 2004, 9:46 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

IRVING, Texas -- Bill Parcells apologized Monday for calling the surprise plays used in practice "Jap plays," saying the remark was inappropriate. The league said Tuesday that it will not take any action nor will it review the Cowboys coach's comments.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has accepted Parcells' apology. "It's quite obvious Bill Parcells made an inappropriate comment," Aiello said. "We don't expect he'll do it again."

Parcells was talking to reporters at the team's minicamp about how his quarterbacks coach and defensive coordinator try to outdo each other when he made the comment, perhaps a reference to Japan's 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

"You've got to keep an eye on those two, because they're going to try to get the upper hand," Parcells said about quarterbacks coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. "Mike wants the defense to do well, and Sean, he's going to have a few ... no disrespect for the Orientals, but what we call Jap plays. OK. Surprise things."

After a murmur in the room of reporters, which included a Japanese journalist, Parcells repeated, "No disrespect to anyone."

"Bill Parcells is a brilliant coach," John Tateishi of the Japanese-American Citizen's League, a national civil rights group told DallasNews.com. "Unfortunately, he is ignorant about racial slurs. I take great offense by what he said. Parcells ought to know better. He sorely needs more education on what is offensive and non-offensive to Japanese-Americans. I am shocked that he would say this."

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple apologized on behalf of the organization, and Parcells later issued a statement.

"Today during my news conference I made a very inappropriate reference, and although I prefaced it with the remark, 'no disrespect to anyone intended,' it was still uncalled for and inconsiderate. For that I apologize to anyone who may have been offended," he said.

Akira Kuboshima, editor of American Football Magazine in Japan, said he wasn't offended, though he knows many Japanese will be.

"There is a lot of chance for someone to feel offended," Kuboshima said. "To me, it was no big deal."

Parcells spoke to Kuboshima, offering what the reporter perceived to be an apology. Kuboshima said he was surprised more by the reaction of other reporters than the comment.

That comment was only part of Parcells' 45-minute session with reporters, in which he also talked about the team's quarterback competition, players at several positions and some of the new additions.

He said he isn't going to be as patient in his second season with the Cowboys.

After three straight 5-11 seasons, the Cowboys went 10-6 and reached the playoffs in their first year under Parcells. Still, he expects better in 2004.

"That doesn't mean we'll win more games," Parcells said. "That just means I think from head to toe that we have a chance to be better. I really believe that."

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who had two of his Pro Bowl seasons for Parcells while with the New York Jets, came to Dallas in a trade with Tampa Bay.

Vinny Testaverde was reunited with his old coach last week, leaving the Jets as a free agent. The 40-year-old quarterback will compete for the starting job with incumbent Quincy Carter and serve as a mentor to Drew Henson, who was added this spring after he quit professional baseball.

"These guys that were here last year, they've already bought into it. From that alone, we'll be a better team," running back Richie Anderson said. "We already know what to expect. He's not going to allow certain things to happen or go on."

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