Could it be that this is the year T.O. grew up? His skills are clearly down from his heyday. He drops passes at a startling rate and isn't really Mr. Go-To anymore. Could a newfound appreciation of mortality have knocked the chip off his shoulder?
I hate it when pundits claim to see the thoughts and emotions of players and make grand pronouncements about how their state of mind is affecting their play because it's nearly always a load of crap. It's hard enough to understand someone you know intimately, never mind a guy you see on the field once a week and in a five minute public interview. But I'm going to do it anyway.
First he took a fine Super Bowl performance with the Eagles and made it into an ego-scandal. He got kicked off the Eagles and had to sit out half a season in the prime of his career. Then, from the outset Cowboys camp he pissed everyone off over the dubious hamstring injury. Once he finally did start playing, it's clear he was not where he was back in that Super Bowl game, which must seem like ancient history to him now. This is followed by the non-suicide attempt.
Now, as an armchair psychologist, I would guess two things happened. 1) The decline in his skills forced him to realize how mortal he is and how limited an NFL career is. If he truly knows the end is coming, even if it is still a few years off, how desperately would he want those missed games in Philly back, when he had a great QB and was playing out of his mind? Which leads to 2) Accepting responsibility for his own fate. Even though he may still think it is unfair that he can't spew out all his emotions to the camera without consequence, he must simply see that as a fact of life. I bet the trade-off of holding his tongue and being a good teammate in exchange for not missing another game due to bad behavior looks like a good one to him now. In other words, I think our little boy may be becoming a man.
[Editor — please delete the last four paragraphs if, for any reason, T.O. calls a midweek press conference.]
For Parcells' part, he didn't really have to do anything except just make it clear that there was a point where he wouldn't take anymore. He has got to be one of the happiest guys around right now, the disaster seems to have dissipated and he's found himself an effective QB he doesn't take his incessant criticisms personally.