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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Fiery debate: Belichick or Parcells?

By Mike Reiss

Tim Graham, who covers the AFC East for ESPN.com, sparked a fiery debate with his "Big Question": Who will be remembered as the greater coach, Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells?

As of this posting, readers had chimed in with more than 600 comments to Graham's Tuesday piece. Another 6,000 had voted in a SportsNation poll, with Belichick getting 54 percent of the vote and Parcells 46 percent.

The Patriots are naturally a big part of the analysis.

Parcells was the team's head coach from 1993-1996. Belichick has been the team's coach from 2000-present.

Parcells took over a one-win team with major ownership issues and had it in the Super Bowl four years later, reviving the Patriots and putting the franchise on the radar again in New England. Belichick inherited a salary-cap mess and had the team in four Super Bowls over the next eight years, which included one history-making 16-0 regular season.

Parcells' arrival was hailed by many and helped keep the team from moving from New England. Belichick's arrival was questioned by many because of how things unfolded for him at his first coaching stop, in Cleveland.

Parcells' created a firestorm with his departure following the 1996 Super Bowl loss, not flying back with the team. A firestorm resulted from the NFL fining Belichick and the Patriots for illegal videotaping procedures in 2007.

There are so many ways to compare and contrast the two legendary coaches.

From a Patriots perspective, part of what makes the debate so compelling is that you almost can't have one without the other.

Had Parcells not worked his magic here, it's quite possible the franchise wouldn't even be in New England, thus never giving Belichick the opportunity to direct a dynastic run over the last decade.

Yet Belichick is arguably the strongest link between Parcells and Super Bowls, having worked under Parcells as defensive coordinator with the Giants and then as a special assistant/secondary coach in 1996 with the Patriots.

In the end, when looking solely at both coaches' Patriots tenure, I choose to judge it by the championship rings.

That's why Belichick gets the nod.