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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Parcells hurt by rumors of return to coaching
By John Clayton
ESPN.com


TAMPA, Fla. -- The subject batted around the Hall of Fame selection room Saturday morning was waiting time. Lynn Swann, the Steelers wide receiver, waited through 14 years of eligibility to finally be selected. Vikings tackle Ron Yary also waited 14 years.

Bill Parcells was up for his first year of eligibility and got shot down. Why the difference? Part of the beauty of the 2001 class of seven selections is that there may not have been one clear favorite, but many of the past carryovers were selected.

That helped Swann, who had been among the final group up for selection six times without being enshrined. For years, Swann and Steelers teammate John Stallworth have been on the same ballot and have taken votes from each other. They played for the four-time Super Bowl champion Steelers in the 1970s.

Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
The argument against Parcells was rumors and predictions that he may return to coach. Unsubstantiated stories circulated that Parcells would surface as the head coach of the Bucs once the Glazier family sells the team to Eddie DeBartolo and investors from Outback Steakhouse. The rules don't prohibit a coach from returning to coaching. In fact, Paul Brown and George Halas were selected to the Hall of Fame and then returned to coach.

The first ballot eliminated Parcells along with wide receiver Art Monk, cornerback Lester Hayes and Bills owner Ralph Wilson when the list was trimmed from 14 to 10. Parcells joined a list of distinguished coaches such as Vince Lombardi, Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh who had to wait a couple of years before being selected.

Here's the problem. Coaching salaries have escalated into the $2 million to $4 million range. Good coaches are hard to find. So it's too tempting for a burned out champion to sit idly by while new jobs are available for big dollars once they've had a year or two to rest. Dick Vermeil returned after almost two decades to coach the Rams. One year after wining the Super Bowl and retiring, Vermeil is back to coach the Chiefs.

A proposal being considered by the Hall of Fame is to make a change in the bylaws for coaches. Since the beginning, any coach who retires automatically qualifies. Players have to wait five years after retirement before they are eligible.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will consider putting a three-year wait for coaches. It would be a wise move. Parcells shouldn't be penalized for showing a willingness to continue coaching. Within two more years, he'll know whether or not he has a desire to return to coach.

The consensus is that Parcells will not coach again, definitely not this year. Several ownership groups will ask for his involvement. He may take one of those options. What won't change is his record for turning trouble franchises -- the Giants, Patriots and Jets -- into Super Bowl contenders because of his ability to motivate players and devise disciplined strategies.

Parcells' bypass benefited former Bills coach Marv Levy, who produced four consecutive AFC titles. The funny part of Levy making it and Parcell not making it is that Levy called the Bills to see if they would be interested in hiring him as head coach. They weren't, opting to pursue Marvin Lewis of the Ravens and John Fox of the Giants.

The other interesting aspect of Saturday's vote was the attention paid to offensive linemen, normally considered an anonymous position. Three made it -- Jackie Slater of the Rams, Mike Munchak of the Houston Oilers and Ron Yary of the Vikings.

"It shows you where the beef is," Slater joked.

Former Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood, who only weighed 247 pounds, didn't have the beef but he was talented enough of a pass-rusher to beat the best tackles for more than 150 career sacks. His selection was long overdue.

John Clayton is the senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.





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