The late George Young, who rarely met a human being he couldn't like, often used to say privately Bill Parcells was among the more duplicitous people he'd ever dealt with, even if they once made sweet two-part harmony in securing a pair of Super Bowl championships when Young was the general manager of the New York Giants and Parcells was his coach.

Of course, Young also admitted -- as George Halas once did on the subject of former Redskins coach George Allen -- that duplicity was one of the traits key to Parcells's coaching success. The two eventually parted company when Parcells jumped ship deep into the '91 offseason, long after most of the top head coach candidates had been signed up by other teams. Young was forced to turn to nondescript Giants assistant Ray Handley (14-18 until he was fired after two years) and never forgot what he often described as Parcells's treachery in setting the franchise back for most of the 1990s.

When Parcells -- as skilled and shrewd a head coach as there has ever been -- led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996, he also put himself above the team. He made no effort to conceal the fact he was unhappy with his situation that year, and his displeasure with owner Bob Kraft became a significant distraction to his team as it practiced during Super Bowl week.

They lost, to the Packers, and not long after, Parcells bolted for a better deal with the Jets. That team also watched him walk away a few years later, leaving the organization in the lurch.

Last year, Parcells played footsie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even while the respected Tony Dungy, the most successful coach in franchise history, was being left to dangle in the wind by the team's ownership. The Glaziers were blindsided themselves when Parcells changed his mind and jilted them, though they were fortunate to snare Jon Gruden.

Now, despite their public denials, Parcells reportedly has been talking to Jerry Jones about becoming the next Dallas Cowboys head coach, even while nice guy, career assistant Dave Campo is still under contract and trying to win football games, including Sunday's season finale against the Redskins at FedEx Field.

"It's America, isn't it?" Parcells said on ESPN, as if that was any sort of rationale for undercutting a member of his own fraternity.

Jones has said since the story first broke he did not initiate the first telephone call. Parcells has also said he didn't. Would they have us all believe this was a meeting arranged during a psychic network se{acute}ance? Did both men really believe news of their session wouldn't somehow leak out? Couldn't this have waited until next Monday after the final game, or even Jan. 2, when Campo likely will formally get one of those "Happy New Year, you're fired" calls from Jones.

In any case, like Parcells, Jones has frequently not been completely straight in his dealings. If this merger does occur -- and don't be surprised if it does -- maybe it will work. But the names Schottenheimer and Snyder also come to mind in terms of strong-willed, take-no-prisoner coach-owner matchups that begin with both men insisting they'd check their egos at the door. That lasted about 22 seconds.

And how about Parcells's treatment of the same ESPN network that now employs him as a pregame studio analyst. The story of his meeting with Jones was first reported on CBS's Saturday pregame show, not ESPN, which started an hour after ESPN had been on the air the same day.

ESPN scrambled to catch up, with an interview of Parcells conducted by Chris Mortensen Saturday, and then again Sunday. But Parcells did little for his own on-air credibility when he went into his full-metal dodge and duck mode in both sessions with Mortensen, arguably the best football reporter on television.

Mortensen seemed exasperated at times with his so-called colleague, asking at one point, "If I don't believe this, why should anyone else?"

Whatever else Redskins fans may think about Deion Sanders, at least he announced on his own CBS pregame show Sunday that he wanted to get back in action with the Oakland Raiders.

If Jones does, indeed, hire Parcells, there may be another unique twist. The day before their conversation became known, the NFL formally announced Friday evening that every owner in the league had "strongly agreed" in principal to interview at least one or more minority candidates for any head coaching vacancy that comes up.

A day later, it became very obvious Jones had made his first play for the next Cowboys coach. Any other interview with a minority candidate before an official announcement of a Parcells hiring would have to be considered meaningless. It also would be an affront to Paul Tagliabue, who seems sincere in his efforts to make a serious commitment to increase minorities in the coaching and front office ranks. If Parcells does join the Cowboys, perhaps the commissioner would fine Jones for the first and fastest violation of the minority hiring policy -- a move George Young would have approved.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (top), Bill Parcells, who coached the Giants, Patriots and Jets, have combined to capture five Super Bowl trophies.