August 4, 2013


Career Arc: Bill Parcells : How a free-agent coach mastered the NFL (Bryan Curtis on April 18, 2013, ESPN)

The question to ask about Parcells is pretty basic: Why was he messing with us? Why'd he leave job after job after after performing miracles on the field, like the football version of Larry Brown? As it turns out, Parcells's career arc was a lot more rational that it looked. For early on, Parcells experienced a traumatic event that changed his whole approach to coaching. Let's begin right there, with the moment that created the Big Tuna as we knew him.

December 1983. Parcells was finishing his first season as an NFL head coach. The Giants were god-awful. Phil Simms had gotten hurt. Even before that, Parcells had tried starting Scott Brunner, who would end his career with a 56.3 career QB rating. On December 4, the Giants lost to the Cardinals at the Meadowlands, falling to 3-10-1. It was around that time -- accounts vary -- that the betrayal happened. General manager George Young went on a secret trip to see Howard Schnellenberger, the coach of the University of Miami. Young wanted to talk to Schnellenberger about replacing Parcells.

Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder broke the news on The NFL Today. Parcells was enraged. "His personality seemed to change after that," David Halberstam wrote. "He became ... harder-edged, more cynical about it all, less trusting of anyone and everything." Parcells no longer saw a football coach as a lifer who trudges forward until ownership opens the trapdoor -- a.k.a., the Tom Landry/Paul Brown model. Parcells saw a football coach as a cold-eyed businessman whose power games didn't end with his players. Young had set the tone. Parcells never let himself get close to being fired again.

The notion that it took that long for Mr. Parcells to realize that all the parts in football are interchangeable is simply wrong.  He spent his freshman year of college at Colgate, but transferred after a superior player was recruited at the same position.  The guy walked up to the coach thirty years later at a banquet and said, "You may not remember me, but I'm "so-and-so"...  At which point, the coach broke in and said, "Of course, I remember you, you're the [s-o-b] who took my job."

Posted by at August 4, 2013 8:28 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus