By Tim Graham
CANTON, Ohio -- James Lofton's face contorted into a
mock scowl by recalling how Bill Parcells cemented
a coaching legacy.
Lofton entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003 with
zero Super Bowl rings. The closest he came was with the Buffalo Bills in Super
Bowl XXV, the second and final title of Parcells' career.
Scott Norwood's kick went ... Well, you know where it went.
"That's where you realize," Lofton said,
"what a thin line it is between being world champion and not being world
Parcells will join Lofton in the Hall of Fame on Saturday
night. The Class of 2013 also includes guard Larry Allen, receiver Cris Carter,
defensive tackle Curley Culp, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, linebacker Dave
Robinson and defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
Parcells still would have been a champion had the Bills won that night. He'd previously guided the New York Giants to a title.
But maybe he doesn't get into the Hall of Fame with only one Super Bowl ring.
"I guess it would have been different," Parcells
told me today. "I don't know. That's football.
"There are a lot of things that could turn people's
fates. I can tell you this: I was thinking to myself, 'You know, it's
going to be a shame if we lose this game today,' because I really felt like
we'd outplayed them from beginning to end pretty much."
The Giants defeated the Bills, 20-19, in the closest Super
Bowl of all-time. No other Super Bowl has been decided by less than three
The Bills drove to the Giants' 30-yard line with eight
seconds left. Norwood lined up for a
47-yard field-goal attempt.
"First off all, he hadn't made a kick on grass from
over 40 yards all year," Parcells said today, although Norwood actually did make one from 41 yards
away. "So that would've been an unusual circumstance if he'd made it.
"And I was told that information right at the time the
kick was being executed because both Raul Allegre and Matt Bahr said to me,
'Bill, he hasn't made one this long all year on grass.' "
Norwood's kick didn't go through the uprights.
The Bills returned to the Super Bowl three more times,
losing them all. The Bills still sent several players to the Hall of Fame: Jim Kelly, Thurman
Thomas, Bruce Smith, Lofton and probably Andre Reed someday.
"Now, they were very talented," Parcells said. "And
they did have a chance to win it. But fortunately they didn't."
Parcells coached 19 seasons and had just five losing seasons
for the Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
I asked if he allows himself to think about the bounces of
fate. He might have been replaying Tony Romo's fumbled field-goal snap in the
2006 postseason as he replied.
"There were other plays that went against me that may
have, you know ..." Parcells said before pausing to think for a nice word,
"helped, let's say."