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Revisiting "Jap Plays" from Bill Parcells - 16 Years Ago Today

Writer's Note: I'm a Barstool Chicago intern who wrote NFL betting blogs all of last season and I'm sprinkling in blogs until I return full-force for Sundays in the Fall.

I'm working from home for my real job while caring for two kids under the age of 3, so when I'm not researching vasectomies, I'm remembering stupid pieces of NFL history to get my mind off of things. (Note: If you want to get your mind on things, here's a good place to start: https://8cantwait.org/)

Here we go.

The following quote came from Bill Parcells, a Hall of Fame and two-time Super Bowl champion coach who famously turned dog shit teams into playoff contenders throughout his storied career. On an infamous note, he gave this quote as the head coach at Dallas Cowboys mini-camp in June 2004, referring to the way his offensive coordinator (Sean Payton) was drawing up creative plays to catch the defensive coordinator (Mike Zimmer) off guard:

"You've got to keep an eye on those two, because they're going to try to get the upper hand. 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.' Okay. Surprise things."

Ya know, like the Japanese military's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941? Remember that? Get it?

Let's break it down.

Beginning with "no disrespect". 

What a move. This is how you get in front of the inevitably disrespectful thing to follow.

This is like when people use "Only God Can Judge Me" to automatically excuse all shitty behavior in their lifetime. I admire the attempt, but that won't stop us from judging the shit out of you.

Quickly following "No disrespect" with "Orientals"

Not good. Using "Oriental" to refer to people isn't quite a racist epithet, but it falls in a gray area that gets this quote cooking. Give credit to the media for not cutting him short to get the full quote - they had a prominent sports figure drop an aside of "no disrespect for the Orientals" and were like "please, continue."

What's wrong with "trick" plays?

The term "trick play" is most prominently used and it seems to get the job done without insulting an entire nation of people. If Parcells was willing to use "Jap" in a public interview to refer to trick plays, this couldn't have been his only use of "Jap" to refer to sneaky or surprising things in his life:

"Shhh! We're throwing a Jap party for Deb's 60th - she won't believe it!"

…Jap in the box?

Smh. That's enough speculation. Parcells later apologized for the insensitive ethnic remark, but he clearly had more learning ahead of him before purging any racist skeletons lingering in his closet.

The man had a great career, and I must admit it's a football guy move to hold a grudge for over 60 years, but this was clearly not one of his finest moments. You won't find it on his Wikipedia page or highlighted in his episode of A Football Life

We can't always prevent mistakes, but let's hope we can learn from them.