Bill Parcells achieved the rare distinction of leading the team he rooted for as a boy to two Super Bowl championships, and he acknowledged the pride in those achievements as he accepted his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime of Sunday's Giants-Broncos game.
"This is a special place for me because this is where I'm from, right up the road," Parcells, who is from Oradell, N.J., said shortly before the ceremony. "This is where it started for me in terms of opportunity. Someone took a chance on me as an assistant coach, and I'll always be grateful to the Giants' organization for that. It's been a great life for me in the NFL, and I've had a good opportunity to meet a lot of people. I have a lot of friends I've coached and coached with and played against. It's what pro football is supposed to be all about."
Parcells was presented his ring by Hall of Fame executive director Steve Perry, and the former coach was joined by all the living Giants Hall of Famers: linebackers Lawrence Taylor, Sam Huff and Harry Carson, halfback Frank Gifford and quarterback Y.A. Tittle.
"Today gives me the opportunity to say a last thank you to the Giants' organization for their confidence in me," Parcells told the crowd. "Also, to all my ex-players for their efforts on my behalf, and to you the fans for your support over the years. The best thing about all this is that it happened in the shadow of my hometown and it happened with the team I used to root for."
Quoting the former Giants president and co-owner, Parcells added, "As Wellington Mara used to say, 'Once a Giant, always a Giant.' "
Parcells coached the Giants from 1983-90 and the Patriots from 1993-96, leading New England to its second Super Bowl appearance after the 1996 season. Parcells joined the Jets and coached until the 1999 season. He got the Jets to the 1998 AFC Championship Game and spent the 2000 season as the team's general manager. His final coaching job was in Dallas, where he coached the Cowboys from 2003-06.
"I've really had a great life," Parcells said. "I've been very fortunate."
Parcells said he now tries to help other aspiring coaches the way he once was tutored by coaches he's worked with over the years.
"I have a great appreciation for the game and its history, for my predecessors that gave me the opportunity,'' he said, "and I've always tried to do the same for the guys coming up."
One of those guys is current Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who himself might be in the Hall of Fame one day with his two Super Bowl rings and his excellent work with the expansion Jaguars in the 1990s. Coughlin was an assistant on Parcells' staff when the Giants won the Super Bowl after the 1990 season.
"I will always be indebted to [Parcells] for that opportunity and having been a part of a group of people that were able to win a world championship," Coughlin said.
"It certainly gave me a great indication of how things should be done that I could apply as I moved along in my career."