Bill Parcells left his mark on every player he coached
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
It is almost with a sense of remorse that Bill Parcells looks back on his nomadic run in the NFL, a career that included stops with the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys as head coach and the Dolphins as director of football operations.
"I can't say that's a great quality," Parcells said of the wanderlust that had him jumping to so many different places. "It's something I can't explain to you. I'm just a little bit -- I don't want to say 'distractible' -- but a little impatient. I think about the next challenge. 'What are you gonna do next?' That kind of grew as it went along."
The rebuilding projects became a sort of addiction to Parcells, who Saturday night took his place with the NFL immortals with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Give him a team that couldn't figure out how to win and Parcells would reshape the roster, remake the mind-set and turn that team's fortunes around in dramatic fashion.
It's astonishing how quickly he made it happen:
He rebuilt the Giants into two-time champions before walking away, in part because of health problems, in part because he had a chance to go out on top.
He took the moribund Patriots and made them relevant again, taking them to a Super Bowl in his fourth season.
After a contract squabble with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, he took over the Jets after a 1-15 season and almost immediately turned them around, getting them to the AFC Championship Game within three years.
After walking away yet again, Parcells re-emerged in Dallas, where the Cowboys had gone 5-11 in each of the previous three seasons. The turnaround was immediate, as Parcells got them to the playoffs.
In the end, Parcells was the first coach in NFL history to lead four different teams to the playoffs, an accomplishment certainly worthy of his Hall of Fame honor.
"I kind of hate routines, even if it's a successful routine," Parcells said of his penchant for moving. "I don't like it. So I just enjoyed that kind of thing, going in and starting from scratch. That can be very satisfying."
It is what Parcells did best, and it is why he made it to Canton, where he now puts his stamp on NFL history along with the other coaching greats of years past. Along the way, he imparted his football brilliance to so many coaches and players, many of whom won championships with him, others who won championships after going out on their own.
Three of his former assistants -- Bill Belichick of the Patriots, Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Sean Payton of the Saints -- have won a combined six Super Bowl titles in the last 12 seasons. All three were on hand Saturday night to see Parcells take his rightful place in football immortality.
"We do throw this 'great' word around in common usage today much, much too often, but Bill Parcells is a great football coach," Coughlin said. "It was just the way he went about his business . . . continuity, the winning, the high expectation level put by Bill on his players and his ability to gauge right away whether it was championship quality or not."
Parcells had a terrific feel for what made players tick, and he was one of the greatest motivators you'll ever see on the sideline. He knew when to push players, when to back off, when to needle them and when to encourage them. Almost everyone who played for him swears by him -- even the ones who swore at him.
Yes, there were those who didn't hit it off with Parcells. Such as former Giants cornerback Mark Collins, who bristled under Parcells' bullying style.
"One of the guys that I think hated me was Mark Collins," Parcells said. "I mean, I don't know what it was, but we just didn't hit it off. Now, I liked him as a player, and I coached him hard, but he just had an attitude."
A few years later, when Parcells was coaching the Patriots and Collins was playing with the Chiefs, the cornerback approached Parcells before the game.
"I'm out there in warmups, and he comes over and he says, 'Thank God I had you.' That was his first line. He didn't even say hello. Just 'thank God I had you.' So I said, 'Thank you, Mark. I appreciate it.' ''
When Collins was with the Seahawks and Parcells was coaching the Jets, they saw each other again.
"He was hurt and he couldn't play, but he was on the trip," Parcells said. "So he goes down and gets Aaron Glenn and Ray Mickens and gets 'em over right in front of me and says, 'You do what this guy tells you. Do exactly what he tells you.' ''
Just one more example of how Parcells touched all those he came in contact with during his brilliant 19-year head-coaching career. Just one more example of why he ended up here, at the place where the game's greats live on forever.