IRVING, Texas -- On Saturday Bill Parcells will learn whether he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
There will be some debate in the room because that is the duty of the voters but in the end Parcells should be in Canton, Ohio, this summer as part of the Hall’s Class of 2012.
He deserves to be enshrined for his two Super Bowl wins with the New York Giants. He also deserves it because he made three franchises relevant. He is the only coach to take four different teams to the playoffs. He even oversaw a turnaround in Miami from 1-15 joke to 11-5 playoff team, although the Dolphins never contended again before he walked away.
When he came to New England in 1993, the Patriots were terrible. The team was close to moving to St. Louis. In fact, I remember attending the season-finale that year against Miami thinking this would be their final game at Foxboro Stadium. Drew Bledsoe hit Michael Timpson with a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Dolphins and one of my friends thought about rushing the field. Then he saw the German Shepherds barking back at him.
The Patriots would not be the Patriots of today without Parcells.
From New England he went back to Giants Stadium, this time to coach the New York Jets, who were also laughable. In his second year he took them to the AFC Championship game, losing to John Elway and Denver. But the Jets’ success continued after Parcells left with Al Groh and Herm Edwards coaching the team.
The Jets would not be the Jets of today without Parcells.
His final coaching stop came in Dallas. He wanted to play the big room, as he called it, and the Cowboys were the big room even after three straight 5-11 finishes from 2000-02. With Quincy Carter as his quarterback Parcells took the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and the playoffs. Pause and re-read that sentence again. With much of the same talent that went 5-11, he turned them into a 10-6 team.
He finished with a 34-30 regular-season record with the Cowboys. They lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs twice, including 2006 at Seattle when a field goal snap slipped through Tony Romo’s fingers.
As he flew back he knew he was done coaching. As he told me a couple of weeks ago, he just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. It wasn’t how the Cowboys lost, he said, it was that the Cowboys lost that sent him away. To this day he believes, as do a number of his assistant coaches and players that remained on the team in 2011, that if the Cowboys beat Seattle they would have gone at least to the conference title game.
The Cowboys went 13-3 in their first year without Parcells and Wade Phillips as head coach, and had the best record in the NFC. They lost in the divisional round at Texas Stadium to the New York Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Had Parcells remained another year, I firmly believe the Cowboys would have made their playoff run. He finally had a quarterback in place in Tony Romo. He had a defense that was coming around and an offense that could score points. Would they have been 13-3? Probably not, but they would have been a tougher team for sure.
The Cowboys would still be the Cowboys without Parcells coming to town, but would Cowboys Stadium be Cowboys Stadium?
Jerry Jones hired Parcells because he needed to get out of 5-11 rut and he needed to get a stadium vote passed. Parcells helped deliver.
And now Jones attempts to win with a core group of players brought in during Parcells’ time from Romo to Jason Witten to DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin, Kyle Kosier, Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher. Terence Newman had a nine-year run as a starter but now his future is dicey at best. Bradie James lasted nine years. Mat McBriar came in as a practice squad player in 2003. L.P. Ladouceur was signed in 2005 after a tryout at San Jose State.
Parcells’ time with the Cowboys wasn’t perfect but it was lasting. And it should be part of his biography at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.