Bill Parcells humbled as he reflects on Hall of Fame career

Retired NFL football coach Bill Parcells watches batting

Retired NFL football coach Bill Parcells watches batting practice before a spring training game between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. (March 30, 2012) (Credit: AP)

CANTON, Ohio - Bill Parcells was walking off the field after the Giants' upset win in the wild-card round in January 1985 when the thought hit him.

His team had just beaten the Rams, 16-13, on the road -- this after a 33-12 loss in the same stadium during the regular season -- when his players started mobbing him.

"I can remember I had my arm around [running back] Rob Carpenter and we were walking off together," Parcells said. "My guys were coming by, and it was kind of chaotic, euphoria at its highest. And I remember thinking to myself, 'You know, Parcells, if you just get your ass in gear, you might be able to do this.' And that game was the game where I kind of said, 'Hey, you know what, you can do this if you get at it.' It kind of served as a little bit of impetus."

Parcells lost the next week to the eventual Super Bowl champion 49ers, but it wasn't long before the Giants coach became a champion himself. Two years later, he won the first of two Super Bowl titles on the way to a career that eventually would land him here -- at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Parcells, 71, will be enshrined at a ceremony Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium, adjacent to the hallowed building that houses the game's immortals. It will be an emotional moment for the former coach, who went on to lead New England to another Super Bowl appearance and then coached the Jets and Cowboys.

"It's the consummate prize for people in our industry," Parcells said Friday. "This was my life's work, my industry, for a very long time. I'm very fortunate. I had enough good players. I had enough good coaches. Somehow, even though I would screw it up myself, I could get it done with them."

Parcells will be inducted on the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame, and more than 100 enshrinees have gathered for the festivities. The coach was almost disbelieving at being surrounded by so many of the game's great players and coaches.

"You just feel privileged, you really do," he said. "It's a genuine, from-the-heart feeling. You just look around and say, 'What am I doing here?' But as you hear them talk, that's what they all say. It's special, and some very important people to me are here to see it. I'm happy. I'm happy. I'm a lucky guy."

Three of Parcells' former assistants -- Tom Coughlin of the Giants, Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Sean Payton of the Saints, all of them Super Bowl winners -- will be on hand for the ceremonies. Parcells is touched that they would take time out from their busy schedules to pay tribute to their mentor.

"I take pride in their accomplishments, I'll tell you that," Parcells said of the three. "When you get ready to play these guys, you better be ready, because they know what to do."

Parcells also will be joined by family members and several of his former players for what surely will be an emotional tribute. But the tears already started flowing Thursday night, when Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter presented Parcells a tie clip, engraved with Parcells' name and his Hall of Fame number (he's the 278th member of the Hall).

Parcells said the Giants claimed Carter on waivers when he was released by the Eagles in 1990. Carter also was claimed by Minnesota and was awarded to the Vikings because they had a worse record at the time.

"He came down to my table, my daughters are there, he's crying, and then we're all crying," Parcells said. "You never know the things you do that touch other people. And I really didn't know exactly with Cris until right then."

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