Michael Lewis – not the Eagles safety – is back with his latest piece of excellent sports writing in the New York Times Magazine sports supplement. Good stuff, and a highly recommended read.

The subject of the piece is one that is near and dear to the hearts of the Giants faithful: one Duane Charles Parcells. (How you get “Bill” out of that, I do not know. Why not just “Ed,” or “Steve?” And how funny is it that Parcells’ name is actually Duane? You gotta love the confluence between black names and WASPy names – my mother has a psychologist friend named “Corliss,” though I don’t think her patients call her “Big Nasty.”)

But anyway, an excellent piece – it follows the old “Monday through Sunday in the Life of the Workaholic Coach” formula, which is always interesting and always works, but what’s really great are Lewis’ insights into Parcells.

Parcells’ massive ego certainly doesn’t manifest itself in material possessions. How’s this image: “Right now he is living alone in what amounts to a hotel room in Irving, Texas, whose sole virtue is that it is a 10-minute drive to both the Cowboys practice facility and Texas Stadium.”

Or this one: “His office is vast and impersonal and without a trace of self-importance. Parcells has had his picture taken with presidents and movie stars, but the only photograph in the office lies facedown on a bookshelf. He turns it over to reveal a snapshot of him with three tough-looking young men – tattoos, sleeveless shirts – from a boxing gym in North Jersey he likes to visit.”

The Parcells of Lewis’ article can basically be boiled down to an anecdote about a middleweight boxing match, where the underdog absorbed an extraordinary amount of punishment from his physically superior opponent but through sheer will power, managed to stay on his feet. Eventually, the favorite got tired, let up slightly, and was knocked out by the opportunistic underdog.

In the locker room after the fight, the fighters are separated only by a thin curtain. The favorite hears the underdog telling his trainers about all the times during the fight that he wanted to quit.

“At that moment,” says Parcells. “[The favorite] began to weep…. He was crying because for the first time he understood [the underdog] had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero feel the same emotions. They’re both human.”

This is Parcells in a nutshell, according to Lewis, a man “whose life has been defined by the pressure of competition and his response to it…. Even if you have millions in the bank and everyone around you tells you that you’re a success, you seek out that uncomfortable place.”