Sparano speaks: Don't mention 'Wildcat'

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
11:10
AM ET
During his media sessions last season, Tony Sparano always referred to his previous employer, the Dolphins, as "the other place" -- an apparent aversion to the team that fired him.

Sparano didn't take it quite that far Wednesday as he spoke to the media for the first time since being fired by the Jets, but he employed the selective-amnesia technique a few times when he could've referenced the Jets. The Raiders' new offensive-line coach/assistant head coach, speaking to Bay Area reporters, didn't want to use the 'W' word -- Wildcat -- and he made no mention of Tim Tebow when commenting on the top running quarterbacks in the league.

[+] EnlargeTony Sparano
AP Photo/Bill KostrounNew Raiders assistant HC Tony Sparano is notoriously mute about former employers.
Sparano was asked about RB Darren McFadden, who ran the Wildcat at Arkansas under David Lee, who became Sparano's quarterbacks coach in Miami ... er, the other place when they introduced the Wildcat to the NFL.

"I don’t want to say that word -- you’ll bring it up soon enough," said Sparano, managing a small smile.

For the record, Sparano never liked using the 'W' word during interviews in New York. He felt "Wildcat" was an inaccurate generalization of his Tebow-specific offense. As it turned out, he never had a Tebow-specific offense; Sparano's plan was the equivalent of George Costanza's Penske file from "Seinfeld."

Later in his Oakland interview, Sparano did use the word "Wildcat," waxing nostalgic about his other-place days with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. There were no nostalgic moments about his one-and-done with the Jets.

Sparano was asked what appealed to him about the Raiders, and he compared them to two of his previous employers -- but not the Jets. Surprisingly, he actually uttered the word "Dolphins." Maybe he has an expiration date on personal grudges.

"First of all, the history here, I would say without a doubt," he said. "I’m a history buff. I had a chance to be with the Dolphins and be with the Cowboys, and be in some organizations that have tremendous history and I love this history here."

I suppose the Dolphins have more history than the Jets, considering they have five Super Bowl appearances and two titles to the Jets' one, but the Dolphins haven't won anything in 40 years. Come to think of it, the same could be said of the Raiders.

Sparano gave Rex Ryan a mention. He was asked about Bill Parcells' influence on his career, and he listed Parcells, Tom Coughlin, Marty Schottenheimer and Ryan as "outstanding coaches" that he's been around.

The conversation got around to the new trend in the NFL, athletic quarterbacks running the read-option. Sparano mentioned Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick among the trend setters, saying, "It just brings a complete different element for the defense to have to prepare for." He didn't mention Tebow, who started it all in 2011 with the Broncos. He was supposed to bring some of that to the Jets, but ... well, we all know how that turned out.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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