Bill Parcells Says He Regrets Leaving New England Patriots

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

Even Hall of Fame head coaches have career regrets. Bill Parcells is no exception, and his biggest regret was his departure from the New England Patriots in 1997, according to Jim Corbett of USA Today

Bill Parcells has one haunting memory from a coaching career that will culminate with his August 3 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: his bitter post-Super Bowl XXXI divorce from the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft after the 1996 season.

'I regret leaving New England. Had we done things differently ...' Parcells recently told USA TODAY Sports. 'I had a good young team there. I hated to leave that team because I knew what we could do.'

'I was absolutely too headstrong. And he might have been a little headstrong, too. I think both Kraft and myself, retrospectively, would have done things a little differently.'

According to Corbett's report, the breakup came because Parcells wanted to have final say over personnel decisions, something Kraft denied, while Kraft wanted more security in Parcells' contract, who at that time was on a year-to-year deal. 

For his part, Kraft also said he would have handled the situation much differently, and that the two reached a truce on the matter nearly 10 years ago. 

Parcells was released from his contract in 1997 in exchange for the New York Jets sending the Patriots four draft picks. The Jets promptly signed Parcells, and he spent three seasons with the team, going 29-19 and leading them to the 1998-99 AFC Championship Game. 

He took the Patriots a step further in the 1996-97 season, leading the team to the Super Bowl, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers. In total, he went 32-32 in four seasons for the Patriots and reached the playoffs twice. 

Of course, Parcells is most famous for his tenure with the New York Giants, which he led to two Super Bowl wins and five playoff appearances from 1983 to 1990.

And some of his most tumultuous years came with the Dallas Cowboys and notoriously controlling owner Jerry Jones from 2003 to 2006. Parcells reached the playoffs just once in four years with Dallas.

But his departure from the Patriots—namely because Parcells felt he had built a strong core—continues to eat away at him. Two Super Bowls may have cemented his legacy as one of the NFL's greatest coaches ever, but, like a true competitor, he still wonders what may have been in New England.


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