Besides the great Vince Lombardi, no football coach in the modern era has produced better sideline sound bites or has been quoted more than the former New York Giants and New York Jets Head Coach, Bill Parcells. So it came as no surprise that he stole the show during Saturday’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and that is saying something when you consider his fellow class members. But Parcells is more than talk. This man has scripted one of the more impressive resumes in National Football League history, as he took one franchise to the mountaintop twice and turned three perennial losers into playoff teams in a short period of time.
It is hard to imagine that his coaching career was almost over twice before it truly got off of the ground. He stepped down from the position as a defensive coach with the New York Giants to take a more stable job selling real estate in Colorado. He realized shortly afterwards that he missed the Xs and Os of the gridiron and returned to the Giants.
He went from Linebackers Coach, to Defensive Coordinator, and, eventually Head Coach, where his coaching career was almost derailed before it took off. He inherited a playoff team and Big Blue only won three games in Parcells’ first year guiding the team. He benched the then incumbent starting quarterback, Phil Simms, in favor of Scott Brunner. That decision alone almost cost him his job.
Through the Grace of God, he survived that first season and three years later he found himself hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy as Big Blue defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. A few years later, he captured his second championship in Super Bowl XXV. During that playoff run, the Giants pulled off two of biggest upsets in playoff history in defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and the Buffalo Bills in that year’s Super Bowl game with a backup quarterback.
He shocked the football world when he stepped down from the Giants Head Coaching post and found himself as Television Color Commentator the following season. He caught the coaching bug once again and landed in New England. Although he took a last place team and had them in a Super Bowl a few years later, he and the owner, Robert Kraft, bumped heads on several key decisions, especially when it came to personnel choices. This is when he uttered one of his more memorable quotes. “They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?” Parcells wanted to draft a defensive player and the Patriots selected wide receiver Terry Glenn. That was the beginning of the end as far as his stay in New England.
Shortly after leading New England to Super Bowl XXXI, he found himself heading back to the New Jersey Meadowlands, but this time as the head coach of the New York Jets where he inherited a 1-15 squad. Two years later Gang Green was 15 minutes away from the Super Bowl when they lost to the Denver Broncos in the 1998 AFC Championship game.
He would turn around the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys as a Head Coach and the Miami Dolphins as the Team President. One might look at his much-traveled career and say that he couldn’t stay too long in one place. But look what he did in a short period of time in each location and the results speak for themselves.
Why was he so successful at each stop? He based his coaching philosophy on a few basic principles: accountability, hard work, and dedication. If you could do your job, you could play for the Tuna, as he was affectionately known as in this neck of the woods.
He knew what buttons to push for each individual player. Where he might let Lawrence Taylor get away with some things, he would rip Simms and Carl Banks a new one when they messed up. Sometimes he would use props to get his point across, like the time he left a package of Depends in Ray Lucas’ locker with a note saying, “You are my new starting quarterback, don’t crap in your pants!” As much as some of his players hated some of his tactics when they played for him, 99% of all the players would still run through a brick wall for the sarcastic, hard-nosed coach. “I’m not a bus station kind of guy, but there are a few players here I’m not sure want to be here. They’ve got a brook-trout kind of look.” Parcells had a knack for finding out which players believed in his principals upon arrival and he would build his teams around them. The rest were sent packing.
It is no wonder that Parcells is often compared to Lombardi when it comes to motivating and getting the most out his players. His high school basketball coach and lifetime friend, Micky Corcoran, played for the Green Bay Packer legend. Corcoran was with Parcells throughout his coaching career and gave his pupil the same advice that Lombardi bestowed upon him.
I know we shared him with New England, Dallas and Miami but he is as much a Tri-State personality as there is, and that is why we love him in this area. He is as much of a Jersey Guy as Tony Soprano or Frankie Valli.
If Parcells isn’t in the Hall of Fame, then there shouldn’t be a Hall of Fame. Like I said, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. Congratulations coach!