ESPN’s “30 for 30: The Two Bills” might hit a little too close to home for some New England Patriots fans.
There are plenty of parallels to draw in the documentary between past Patriots drama, and whatever is currently going on with head coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady.
The documentary focuses on the relationship between, estrangement from and reconciliation of Belichick and Bill Parcells, who worked together with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets.
The first similarity comes when Parcells is with the Patriots. One of the reasons Parcells left the Patriots was because Kraft was interfering with the head coach’s personnel decisions.
Here’s some dialogue from the film.
Charlie Weis now: By this time, there was friction between Kraft and Parcells.
Kraft now: Keeping people like ownership out of the football business is believed to be, at that time, to be in the best interest. So, you sort of felt shut out.
Parcells now: Whenever you have a new owner come in, and he’s dealing with a person that’s more experienced, like myself, you can’t explain to him what this business is like, and usually he’s the owner, usually things aren’t smooth.
Parcells in 1996: Friend of mine told me something. OK, now I’m gonna quote it, and I’m not trying to be cute, here, OK? I’m just going to say it. They want you to cook the dinner, least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.
Kraft in 1996: I think our groceries are pretty good. I have — they’re fresh, you know? I like the groceries. I’d like to be flooded with groceries like that next year.
Parcells now: If I had just been a little bit smarter about it and a little bit more diplomatic, I think it probably would have worked out, much like — maybe not to the extent that it did for Bill, but I just think it could have worked out better.
So, how does this relate? There are conflicting reports over whether Kraft intervened and forced Belichick to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It would be uncharacteristic for Kraft to do that, since he trusts Belichick with football moves. But it’s a storyline. And it was a storyline back in 1996. The biggest difference was Parcells, who took over as head coach in 1993, predated Kraft, who bought the team in 1994.
The power struggle was real.
The next parallel came when Parcells tried to block Belichick, when both were with the Jets, from becoming Patriots head coach in 2000.
To make a long story short, Parcells ignored a fax from the Patriots requesting to interview Belichick. Parcells subsequently resigned as head coach to trigger a contract clause that would then make Belichick head coach of the Jets. (Crazy, I know!)
Belichick didn’t like the way Parcells handled business, and he had an issue with either Woody Johnson or James Dolan, the two prospective buyers, owning the team he coached.
Former Giants linebacker Harry Carson had another theory.
Carson: There are some guys who don’t necessarily want to follow a legend, you know? They want to chart their own path.
So, how does this apply? Because someone eventually will take over as head coach of the Patriots. And if Parcells is a legend, then Belichick is a demigod.
The chances of Belichick’s successor being offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has decreased significantly since both are expected to take head coaching jobs after Super Bowl LII. But someone will have to succeed him.
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