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An ode to Hall of Famer Bill Parcells

By Mark Gaughan

NEW ORLEANS -- Coach Bill Parcells was the No. 1 man on the list of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees in this voter's view, after listening to eight hours of discussion during the selection meeting Saturday.

You can't write the history of pro football without Parcells. He won Super Bowls with the New York Giants in the 1986 and 1990 seasons. His Giants blew out the Denver Broncos in the former title game and edged the Bills, 20-19, in the latter.

The talent level between the Bills and Giants in 1990 was a lot closer than Bills fans like to acknowledge. New York had the No. 2-ranked scoring defense in the league that year and was No. 1 in yards allowed. The Bills were sixth in points allowed and eighth in yards allowed. The Giants set an NFL record at the time for fewest turnovers given away in a season. Still, the Bills had the overall talent edge.

Parcells compiled a 172-130 record in 19 years as an NFL head coach. But his record is better than those numbers suggest, because at each of his four coaching stops (Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys), he took over teams that were terrible when he arrived.

The Giants had one winning season in the previous 10 before he arrived. He had them in the playoffs in two years and in the Super Bowl in four.

The Patriots were 2-14 the year before he took over. He had them in the playoffs in two years and in the Super Bowl in four. The Jets were 1-15 under Rich Kotite the year before he arrived. They went 9-7 in his first year with largely the same roster and they were 12-4 the next year.

The Cowboys had three straight 5-11 seasons before he arrived. In his first year they went 10-6 and made the playoffs -- with Quincy Carter at quarterback.

Parcells made the playoffs 10 times with four different teams and five different quarterbacks. He went 4-1 in the postseason against three other Hall of Fame coaches. Parcells was 2-1 versus San Francisco's Bill Walsh in the playoffs, 1-0 versus Washington's Joe Gibbs and 1-0 versus Buffalo's Marv Levy.

Parcells compiled great coaching staffs, one of the most important jobs of a head coach. His former assistants have won six Super Bowls (three for Bill Belichick, two for Tom Coughlin and one for Sean Payton).

He was one of the greatest motivators ever. Ex-Bills fullback Sam Gash once told me almost no day went by when Parcells didn't nudge him in some way, with a comment while he was stretching, a quip, a criticism or a compliment. He was constantly pushing his players' buttons.

Like Levy, in fact, he has a bottomless litany of pet phrases he uses to get his messages across. "There's no medals for trying." ... "He needs a year in Joplin." ... "Big cigars and motor cars" (for guys whose heads are too big). ... "I want beavers" (guys who just think football). ... "It's darkest before it goes pitch black." ... "If he doesn't bite as a puppy, he won't bite."

Parcells proved with the Jets and Cowboys the old Bum Phillips line: "He can take his'n and beat your'n or take your'n and beat his'n."

My final five votes during the selection meeting were for: Parcells, Andre Reed, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden and Warren Sapp. ... I'm as convinced as ever that Reed ultimately will get elected to the Hall.


Andre Reed | Bill Parcells | Pro Football Hall of Fame
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |