Former NFL head coach Bill Parcells is known to many football teams as the man who saved their franchises — including the New England Patriots. Parcells, in his second year of eligibility, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Parcells was presented at the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner by one of his former players, George Martin, who he credited in his speech to being a great support to him in his first years with the New York Giants. The inductee’s speech ran for 20 minutes, and he had just one request for the placement of his bust in the museum.
“I’d like to be somewhere near Lawrence Taylor so I can keep an eye on that sucker,” Parcells said of his former player known for his off-field antics.
While he cracked jokes about Taylor, Parcells’ also gave insight to what he brought to his coaching every day, and more importantly, where his philosophy came from. The man who hired Parcells at Hastings College and a former coach of his, Dean Pryor, gave him the words of advice.
“He taught me one vital, vital piece of information that I took with me and preached to every organization, to every university, to my coaching staffs, to my individual coaches and I remind myself every day,” Parcells said. “And that vital piece of information was, ‘Bill, the players deserve a chance to win, and you as an organization or university and coaching staff and individual coach and head coach have an obligatory responsibility to give it to them.
And he gave his players that chance, year in and year out. Of Parcells’ 19 seasons as a head coach, only five of those saw a losing record. He turned the Giants from a losing pack — scrounging together a 3-12-1 record in 1983 — into a playoff caliber team, including two Super Bowl victories under his tenure.
In New England, he gave a hopeless team a new chance at life. Parcells and his staff drafted quarterback Drew Bledsoe in 1993, coached the team to the wild card round in 1995, hired now head coach Bill Belichick and, in his last year at the helm, pushed them to the Super Bowl.
Through his time with the Giants, the Patriots, the Jets and the Cowboys, Parcells owns all winning records — 172-130-1 in the regular season, 11-8 in the playoffs and 183-138-1 overall.
As Parcell’s induction speech concluded, he brought the audience back to one of his first memories with the Giants. A plaque near the players’ entrance with a quote from hall of famer Emlen Tunnell stuck out in his mind.
“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups, but winners assemble as a team,” Parcells said. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I get to do just that. “