"Let me tell you about those fans in Washington," Bill Parcells said. "I like 'em. They hate me so much that it's almost like an acknowledgement. They boo me so hard. They yell at me. They call me so many vile names that it's almost respect.

"It gives you something extra. Like going down there to Washington for that Monday night game {last year}. You must prepare for the violent sound. We won down there before. We always win down there.

"I have never in my life heard a sound like Monday night when {Raul} Allegre made that 52-yarder to beat them. Never. It was the most boisterous, rowdy and violent sound you ever heard when {Jeff} Hostetler knelt down to make the hold.

"And then it stopped -- dead stone silence -- like you just stepped into a cemetery. I could actually hear my players' voices just as clear as we're talking in this room. And it stayed that way all across the field. All the way into the tunnel. One of the greatest feelings I have ever had in my life.

"Now, wait until we go down there {this year}."

A fly on the wall that can spell, syndicated columnist Jerry Isenberg somehow persuaded the New York Giants to let him inside for a week. The result is a surprisingly gentle book, "No Medals For Trying," starring Parcells as a coach who wishes he were a writer, Phil Simms as a quarterback who hides an increasing dread and Lawrence Taylor as a linebacker who practices veterinary medicine on himself.

"What's wrong with the guy you sent us?" an X-ray technician telephones to ask the Giants trainer.

"What do you mean?"

"He's so nervous, we're having a hell of a time getting him into the cylinder."

"Be gentle with him."


"Because he's Lawrence Taylor."


During Isenberg's week, Taylor lightly noted a broken leg. Simms had a questionable ankle. Parcells characterized his team then and forever in the way he muttered: "I got a better chance to win without Simms than without Taylor."

Unable to coax a shot out of the trainer (Parcells is opposed to pain-killing), Taylor had another idea. "Yesterday," the trainer said, "he asked about DMSO. He can't get it from us, but I wouldn't be surprised if he went over and got some from the track. I'll know because I'll smell it."

Dimethylsulfoxide is an anti-inflammatory agent that is applied to the hide (a horse's, usually). It's absorbed directly into the bloodstream. "Like I expected," the trainer reported later, "he's using DMSO on his own. I'm sure he got it at the track. But he's up front about it. He told me as soon as he came in this morning. I guess he thought I'd smell it. A couple of other guys have used it, too, and they make the room smell like a stale pizza parlor."

"What are you doing for Simms?" Parcells asks the trainer.

"Treating him with ice like everyone else."

"Yeah? Well, is it our coldest ice?"

"No, I'm using the warm stuff."

"Your body betrays you," Simms said. "In the offseason, I work much harder than the average quarterback. I'm always afraid that if I don't, then I won't be good enough to play. I wonder if the athlete ever sees when the end is coming. I think about it. I used to think this game would always make me happy. I don't know anymore. I don't know if there's ever complete satisfaction in this thing. You win the Super Bowl and, God, it's the greatest damned thing in the world. And then all of a sudden it's like you never did it."

Two Super Bowls seem to be all the Giants desire. "Taylor's always said he wants to win two Super Bowls," Parcells said.

John Madden may be right about Parcells, if not about Joe Gibbs. Madden, who coached the Raiders for exactly 10 seasons, has a theory that a head coach's effectiveness runs out in a decade. {"That's not Madden's theory," Don Shula begs to differ. "It's Al Davis's theory. Madden was a victim of it."} In Madden's estimation, "It'll end up being about 10 years for Parcells, and Gibbs too. Wait and see." Both are getting there.

"I feel like a failure," Parcells says when the Giants lose. But when they win, he is rejuvenated. "I wish that everybody who is 48 could have moments when they feel like they're 21. I tell my team that all the time. I hope one day when they're 48 they'll have something that makes them feel that way."

In the meantime, they try to get by on DMSO. Passing Simms in the locker room, the trainer took a whiff. "I told Simms I thought he was a pretty bright guy; after all, he's the quarterback. 'Are you sure?' I asked him, 'that you want to put your medical future into the hands of Dr. Lawrence Taylor?'

"Simms just laughed."