While terms of the contract were not disclosed, ESPN reported that Parcells will receive $17.1 million over four seasons to be coach, and only coach.
Many have wondered whether Parcells and Jones can get along. Parcells enjoys a position of power within an organization, and Jones has been described as more of a control freak than a football mind.
The two arrived at the evening news conference together, with Jones following Parcells to the popping of flashbulbs.
"We're both in the same place. We both want to go to the same place," said Parcells, who called himself an "employee" of the Dallas Cowboys. "I'm hopeful we can provide each other with the mutual vehicles to get there."
"I'm not going to grow careless with this relationship," added Jones, who likened his new coach to Rembrandt. "I'm going to do everything to make this go."
If they make it go, the Cowboys could end up with a winning team, something they have not had since 1998. They went 5-11 each of the past three seasons under recently fired coach Dave Campo.
Parcells directed the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990 and the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance in 1996. He also took the New York Jets to the AFC championship game in 1998.
That was the last coaching job for Parcells, who since has said he would not coach at the age of 60. Now 61, the "Big Tuna" has changed his tune.
"That was stupid, wasn't it?" said Parcells, who last year agreed to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then backed out at the last minute, saying his coaching career was over.
The Bucs have claimed they are entitled to compensation, saying Parcells signed a four-year contract with them before he changed his mind. The NFL has yet to make an announcement on the issue.
Parcells, who has a career coaching mark of 138-100-1, has been working as an analyst for ESPN. But satellite TV had been the closest he had gotten to the game before giving in to his hunger.
"Football is still there," said Parcells, who will visit all three of his former teams next season. "It's what I am and what I do. I'm not ashamed of that anymore."
Some expect Parcells to have his hands full with Jones, who chased Jimmy Johnson out of town after he won a pair of Super Bowls as coach and later named himself general manager. But Parcells isn't worried.
"I've been around some strong personalities. One of them is coaching over there at Texas Tech. I don't know if you know his name," Parcells said of basketball coach Bobby Knight.
Jones, 60, admitted the way he has handled the franchise may have been a bit reckless. Thinking he could provide inexperienced head coaches with players, he watched his team become one of the worst in the league over the last three years while creating salary cap issues.
Jones, who bought the team in 1989, never directly addressed who would make personnel decisions but said Parcells would have "major input" as he had in rebuilding the Patriots and Jets.
Jones did help turn around a floundering franchise, watching his team become the first in NFL history to win three Super Bowl titles in four years with wins following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons.
But the Cowboys went just 8-8 in Chan Gailey's second and last season as coach in 1999 and were an embarrassment under Campo.
"I think it's a franchise that had been one that we all have aspired to be like," said Parcells, who has won five division titles and is 11-6 in the playoffs.
"I look forward to the opportunity to getting the team back to a place of prominence."
According to Parcells, the turnaround starts with a support structure, then, "It helps to have a quarterback."
With Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson under center this season, the Cowboys managed more than 17 points just four times. They also allowed 20 or more eight times, including each of the final five games of the season.
"I know there are certain cards on the table," Parcells said. "I know there are some good cards. Or maybe there are cards that need to be turned over."
The wild card is Emmitt Smith, who was a main factor on Dallas' three championship teams of the 1990s and became the leading rusher in NFL history this season but may be a thing of the past. Parcells didn't say whether he will stay or go.
"I'm aware of what Emmitt's accomplished," Parcells said. "This is a thing we are going to have to philosophically discuss. Obviously, there will be changes here. There isn't any doubt about that."
The biggest changes may be the attitudes of Parcells and, more importantly, Jones, who began speaking to his new coach before the season even ended, then watched the conclusion of a third straight 5-11 campaign.
"It's not acceptable to Jerry. It certainly won't be acceptable to be," Parcells said. "I'll do whatever I can to improve it."
So will Jones, but he won't give up his spot on the sidelines during games.
"Will I be allowed on the sideline? Yes. It's my sideline," he said before turning to Parcells. "Can we joke a little bit?"
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