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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pats Hold Key to Parcell's Freedom

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Bill Parcells found out Wednesday that the path to the New York Jets goes through Bob Kraft's office.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled that the option clause in Parcells' contract with the New England Patriots is valid, which means that he can't coach any other team in 1997 without the Patriots' permission.

In effect, this means that if the Jets want to hire Parcells, they must give the Patriots enough compensation to persuade Kraft, the Patriots' owner, to let him out of the contract.

Tagliabue ruled that Parcells' contention that he was free to buy out the final year of the deal was "contrary to common sense, as well as to Massachusetts law."

Kraft is expected to demand the first pick in the draft from the Jets, who are expected to counter with a package of picks including their second-round choice.

Tagliabue said Parcells is free "to pursue other business opportunities, such as broadcasting or other non-coaching positions." He is free to coach any other team in 1998.

Parcells could coach the Patriots again for one more year, but that appears to be a remote possibility because his rift with Kraft has grown so wide.

Kraft's official position is that he'd like to have Parcells coach the Patriots in 1997. He has to welcome Parcells back so he can demand compensation.

The Patriots issued a statement saying the club was pleased the validity of the contract was upheld and, "it is now time for the Patriots to move ahead and build on the success of the 1996-97 season."

Jets President Steve Gutman said he wouldn't comment "until the entire process is completed," an indication that his team is part of that process.

Bobby Grier, the player personnel director who was given control of the draft by Kraft, a move that irked Parcells, was forced outside the Patriots' offices for 45 minutes by a bomb threat Wednesday.

"Bill and I had a great relationship," he said. "If he's not here, it's going to be hard to replace him."

Bolstering his claim to the No. 1 pick in the draft, Kraft reportedly told colleagues inside the organization, "You tell me what someone with three Super Bowls is worth on the open market."