Bill Parcells: Remembering the Career of Legendary NFL Coach, Executive

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Bill Parcells: Remembering the Career of Legendary NFL Coach, Executive
Harry How/Getty Images

An NFL coaching titan is entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His name? None other than the Big Tuna.

Bill Parcells withstood the test of time as the coach of four different organizations. He is known for his resounding presence as the leader of men and is deservedly being enshrined in Canton.

Parcells began his NFL coaching career in 1979 as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants after an assortment of stints as a coach at the college level. 

Before the season even began in 1979, though, Parcells resigned from the position to take a job with a land development company in Colorado. 

The monumental impact Parcells had on the NFL may have never happened. 

But Parcells was fooling himself.

A life away from football? 

Yeah right. 

After spending a year coaching the defensive side of the ball for the New England Patriots, he rejoined Ray Perkins and the Giants in 1981. 

Parcells' first and most significant decision was switching the Giants defense to a 3-4 system. 

When Perkins stepped down in December of 1982, the G-Men looked to Parcells to be their next head coach.

When Parcells took over, the Giants weren't exactly perennial contenders. That's putting it kindly. They had made the playoffs in 1981, but before that they hadn't advanced to the postseason since 1963. 

Head coaching wasn't easy for Parcells in his first season. It wasn't until 1984 that his instructional and schematic football genius translated to on-field accomplishment. 

The 9-7 campaign of '84 was a sign of what was to come for the Giants under Parcells. In 1985, a 10-6 record was enough for a second straight playoff berth and became the stepping stone for the finest season in franchise history.

In 1986, Phil Simms was in the prime of his career and, most importantly, Parcells finally completed the construction of his Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense. 

Lawrence Taylor, a first-team All-Pro in each of his first five seasons, and already with two Defensive Player of the Year awards in his trophy case, was the most frightening defender in football. He bent the edge with a violent burst and unleashed a seemingly primal rage on quarterbacks and running backs alike. 

To this day, Taylor remains the exemplary 3-4 outside linebacker prototype. 

The Giants went 14-2 in 1986, steamrolling their way to another NFC East title after losing to the hated Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. 

New York then outscored its first two playoff opponents—the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins—66 to 3, a cumulative trouncing that led to a date with John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.

Elway and his Broncos took a 10-9 advantage into halftime, but the second half showed that New York was clearly the far superior team.

The Giants scored 24 unanswered points in the second half and won 39-20. 

While his Super Bowl victory elevated him to iconic status among the Giants faithful, something that happened to Parcells the year before his club's title run has become one of the most recognizable and commonly practiced celebrations in all of sports. 

He is said to be the first NFL coach to have Gatorade dumped on him in victory. 

According to The New York Times' Sam BordenGiants nose tackle Jim Burt poured a bucket of Gatorade on Parcells following a win over the Washington Redskins in 1985 as a prank to get back at the coach for the ridicule he received from the head coach for poor play before the game. 

Being the inaugural target for the Gatorade shower is Hall of Fame worthy itself.

Now with a ring to forever symbolize the most dominant season in team history, Parcells may have done an even better coaching job in 1990 to secure another championship.

After starting 10-0, the Giants stumbled to a 13-3 record to end the year and lost Simms to injury late in the season. 

With backup quarterback Jeff Hosteler now under center, the Giants dispatched the Mike Ditka-led Bears 31-3 in the divisional round of the playoffs before sneaking past the San Francisco 49ers, a team that won four Super Bowls in the 1980s, in the NFC title game without scoring a touchdown. 

Facing the high-powered Buffalo Bills, who went into the game as a heavy favorite after their 51-3 demolition of the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC title game, the Giants needed a masterful game plan from their masterful coach.

They got it.

To keep Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed off the field, the Giants ate as much clock as possible and dedicated themselves to the run. 

New York came back after trailing 12-3 in the second quarter. And when Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired, Parcells had his second NFL title.

Super Bowl XXV's box score showed that the Giants held the ball for 40 minutes and 33 seconds, a Super Bowl record that still stands today.

Health problems forced Parcells to retire on top after the 1990 season, but after two years spent as a commentator, the Big Tuna was roaming the sidelines again, this time as the head coach of the New England Patriots. 

As expected, it didn't take long for Parcells to make his mark on a team that hadn't made the playoffs in eight years. 

He was hired in 1993; by 1994 the Patriots were back to the postseason, and in 1996, he orchestrated an 11-5 season and a trip to Super Bowl XXXI. 

Parcells' Pats lost 35-21 in the Super Bowl to a Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers squad, doomed by a kickoff return touchdown by eventual Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard that inflated the Packers' lead from 27-21 to 35-21 in the third quarter.

After a rift with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Parcells left New England and was hired by the AFC East rival New York Jets. 

The Parcells-led Gang Green went 9-7 in 1997 but missed out on the playoffs. The following year, with a 35-year-old Vinny Testaverde at quarterback, the Jets overachieved to a 12-4 record while allowing the second fewest amount of points in football. 

Deadlocked at 10 in the third quarter with the Denver Broncos in that season's AFC title game, Terrell Davis wore down New York's defense, and Mike Shanahan's squad emerged victorious, 23-10.

After a second hiatus from his time as an NFL head coach, Parcells was hired by the Dallas Cowboys. He made the playoffs in his first year—2003—and his last year in Dallas—2006—but instability at the quarterback position and an infamous botched field goal hold by Tony Romo ended the Cowboys' final season with Parcells at the helm without him having much to show for his time spent in Dallas.

To further the fact that football was in his DNA, following his third retirement from football, Parcells took a job as the Vice President of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins. 

The Dolphins were fresh off a 1-15 2007 season, and vast organization changes were needed. Parcells, never a timid decision maker, fired GM Randy Mueller and head coach Cam Cameron. He hired Tony Sparano, one of his former assistants in Dallas, to assume Cameron's role and Jeff Ireland to take over for Mueller.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Parcells selected left tackle Jake Long over quarterback Matt Ryan with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, a move that, today, looks like a mistake. However, Miami won 11 games that year—which made the Dolphins the second team in NFL history to complete a 10-game turnaround in one season. 

In the subsequent years, Miami wasn't able to rekindle its 2008 magic, and Parcells left the NFL once and for all after the 2010 season.

But by then, The Big Tuna had made his mark on the NFL. A rather large, memorable mark.

Here's how he stacks up with other Hall of Fame head coaches:

Another indelible facet of Parcells' legacy is the prolific coaching tree he left behind. 

His direct disciples include Bill Belichick, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin, who have combined to win six of the last 12 Super Bowls as head coaches. 

In his era, no coach provided soundbites as insightful and blunt, with messages as successful as Parcells did. 

His brash coaching style that yielded 172 wins made him a feared yet respected figure in many circles. 

After winning two Super Bowls as a head coachBill Parcells, the Big Tuna, is immortalized in Canton, Ohio, in his first year of eligibility. 

The way it should be.

 

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