Last week I read a piece in ESPN which did not have Bill Parcells in the Top 20 of NFL Coaches. When I read Rick Reilly's reasons for why he did not put Parcells in this list, I knew a response was needed. There is nothing like a little Giant motivation to set the record straight. In the process, if we expose Mr. Reilly for being sloppy in his analysis, all the better.
Let's start with why Mr. Reilly did not put Parcells on his list of Top 20 NFL coaches:
"..his regular-season coaching record was only .570, which ranks below most of the coaches in my top 20."
Really? Reilly? REALLY? Are you kidding me? This would be like Joe Girardi of the NY Yankees getting knocked for having a (coincidentally) .577 won loss record here in 2013 when 103% of his players are injured. IT HAS TO DO WITH WHAT HAND YOU WERE GIVEN TO PLAY WITH, RICK! Bill Parcells lifts franchises mired in sh*t, makes them competitive, makes them win games, gets them all to the playoffs, goes to the Super Bowl, and wins two titles. What else do you want the man to do, walk on water?
He doesn't resurrect one franchise.
He doesn't resurrect two franchises
He doesn't resurrect three franchises.
HE RESURRECTS A TOTAL OF FOUR DIFFERENT FRANCHISES.
If that is not the mark of greatness, I do not know what it is. Let's took at the tape.
New York Giants
In the 3 years before Parcells was coach, the team was 17-24. During Parcells' tenure as head coach, he was 75-49-1. Not bad, considering 1 year was wrecked by the Giants not scamming for replacements and losing 3 games pronto. Or his first season as an NFL coach, where he went 3-12-1. Oh, and he lost both his parents inside of 6 weeks during that season. Bill Parcells was a NY Giants legend, plain and simple. He ended a 30 year drought with a title. And the second title was smoke and mirrors versus the 49ers and Bills. Parcells was a riverboat gambler who knew what it meant to win a title or go home. He faked 4th down with Rutledge in XXI. He faked with Reasons on a punt in the NFC Championship in SF. He pulled out all of the stops to find a way to win.
New England Patriots
In the 3 years before Parcells was brought in as head coach, the Patriots were the Patsies. They were a combined 9-39. But Reilly is upset that Parcells only has a .570 average?! He takes a completely awful franchise, turns them around, and brings them to the Super Bowl in 4 years. His won-loss average here-> at 32-32 it looks positively pedestrian. But he started with losers and left with winners. It was that foundation of instilling a winning culture that enabled Kraft to build a successful franchise thereafter. All of Kraft's success can be traced to the start with Bill Parcells.
New York Jets
All we have to do here is mention two words to the informed, and this case is closed. Rich Kotite. For the uninformed, Kotite was the NFL's version of the Titanic, who took Pete Carroll's 6-10 legacy and managed to go 3-13 the following year, not to be outdone with a 1-15 season the year after. Yep, Parcells inherited a 10-38 mess and once again had to reclaim something from this train wreck. He proceeded to go 29-19 in the next 3 years, taking the Jetsies to within 30 minutes of the Super Bowl. Oh, and along the way, he reclaimed a QB named Vinny Testaverde. And while we are talking about Testaverde, Parcells' worst record of the 3 years in Jetsville (8-8) was 1999, when Testaverde tore his Achilles in the first game of the season. And maybe Mr. Reilly needs to be reminded that Testaverde's starting replacement for 9 of the remaining games was Ray Lucas, who went 6-3 and had more completions in those 9 games than he did the rest of his entire career in the NFL.
It took all of 2 games in Dallas for Bill Parcells to undress Jim Fassel's 6 years in NY. I was in the building on that fateful Monday night in 2003 when putzy could not put away Bill. Fassel left 14 seconds on the clock, enough time for Quincy Carter (Quincy who?) to get a tie and bring it to OT, setting up a subsequent win. We could stop there, but for the Reillys of the world who need to be educated, Dallas was another sewer before Parcells arrived. Parcells' predecessor this time was Dave Campo of 15-33 ignominy. Parcells would finish 34-30 with 4 different starting QBs before finally settling on an undrafted free agent named Romo. He watched in horror as his young QB fumbled a snap from center on an extra point, losing a playoff contest.
Bill Parcells was no angel. He was no Level 5 leader either, leaving teams in the lurch after he left and even leaving teams before he arrived. If he could have stayed in one place, perhaps he would have had Reilly's better won-loss record, but that was not who Bill Parcells was. The late George Young once said of Parcells: "Bill knows what defense he'll call during the second series three games from now. He doesn't know what he's doing in his own life three days from now."
What about Parcells' legacy in football? We demonstrated how he turned 4 franchises around, teaching them how to win. He left a legacy of players who were molded into consummate professionals. Phil Simms candidly confesses that not a day goes by when he is not thinking about or quoting his mentor from NY. Lawrence Taylor is one of the greatest to have ever played the game (he'd be #2 on my list behind Jim Brown). But where do you think LT would have been without Parcells? LT would be the first to tell you that his career would not have been the same. He did so, in as many words at his Hall of Fame induction:
"And I’d like to thank a coach, that without him. Man I tell you, he’s the coach of coaches, in my opinion. Bill Parcells, I have never in my life had a coach that knew the game of football as well and knew me as well and was able to put the two together and make a great combination. This guy is instrumental, and I was asked about Bill – do we talk any more? Well it’s like a marriage that’s lasted 30 years. You really don’t talk that much but you know you love each other anyway. And that’s the way Bill and myself (are) now."
Parcells stamped his winning football formula on his coaching assistants too. He spawned a total of 9 head coaches and 6 Super Bowl titles. Among them were Bill Belichick (3 titles), Tom Coughlin (2 titles), and Sean Payton (1 title). You see the Parcells tree in Payton's call for a successful onside kick to start the 3rd Quarter of Super Bowl XLIV. You see it in Coughlin's preparation. And you see it in Belichick's linebackers and tight ends.
Parcells began as a head coach 30 years ago. His 2 titles, plus his coaching tree of 6 more yield 8 titles in total. That is 27% of the NFL titles won these last 3 decades. That is frightening. That is a legacy. That is why he is easily one of the best of all time. If Parcells rolled out of the bed the wrong way he would still be in the Top 20.
Bill Parcells took four different teams that were a combined 51-134 before he was there, turned them around, got ALL four teams to the playoffs, took two to the Super Bowl, and won 2 Super Bowls. That his won-loss average was 172-130-1 is probably the LEAST RELEVANT STATISTIC imaginable. Yet this is cited for one of the main reasons why an ESPN writer can leave him off this list. You know what the other reason was?
Reilly: "Parcells' stature was blown up because he did his best work in New York, which is the scuba mask of the world. Everything you do in New York looks one-third bigger than it really is." Really Reilly? Is that the best you can do?
Looking over the list, I would put Parcells in at #9, right after Bill Walsh. Like the quote about Don Shula, 'he can take his'n and beat your'n. Or he can take your'n and best his'n.' That was Bill Parcells too. If you gave Parcells the 49ers on Jan 20, 1991 or the Bills on January 27th, he would have won with those two teams as well.
Parcells is a Super Bowl Champion who changed the game and left a legacy on the NFL. He demanded and earned the respect of his players and assistants. In a couple of months, the entire football community will turn out to enshrine him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When August comes, listen to what his former players and assistants say about the man. No one deserves this recognition more than Bill Parcells.
Great post, Andy. Did you know about this website: http://firerickreilly.com/ ?
@Justin wThx. ESPN is supposed to imply a certain threshold of media credibility. While I know they are less than squeaky clean, I just didn't expect this egregious an error.