Some have speculated that Bill Parcells did not make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility because of questions surrounding his character. But now preparing to enter Canton following his second year on the ballot, it appears that at the end of the day, what a man accomplishs on the field that matters the most.
In 22 seasons as a head coach with four different teams, Parcells accomplished quite a lot.
Parcells took over the New York Giants in 1983, and all he had to do was turn around a team that had been to the playoffs only once in the previous 20 years. In his first year the Giants went 3-12-1, but the next year New York went 9-7 and won a playoff game. In his third year, the NY went 10-6 and again won a playoff game.
The following year, the Giants won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Four years later, they did it again.
Parcells cited health reasons for his retirement following the 1990 Super Bowl victory over Buffalo, but in 1993 he took over a Patriots team that had averaged 3.5 wins per year over their previous four seasons. He took New England to the playoffs in his second year, and to the Super Bowl in his fourth, losing 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers. But Parcells wanted more control over personnel decisions, and after the Super Bowl loss he managed to get out of his contract to take over a Jets team that had won four games in the previous two years.
After immediately improving the Jets to 9-7 in his first season, Parcells guided the team to a 12-4 record in Year 2. It is still the most wins in franchise history. The Jets lost in the 1998 playoffs to the eventual champions, the Denver Broncos. Parcells salvaged a 1-6 start in 1999 to finish 8-8, but again retired from coaching. He would return one final time, taking over the Cowboys in 2003.
Dallas had gone 5-11 in each of the previous three years under Dave Campo, but went 10-6 in Parcells' first season. He would take the Cowboys to the playoffs one more time, but retired for the final team (it appears) in 2006, finishing with 172 career victories, two Super Bowl titles, and an AFC championship with the New England Patriots.
His 172 wins are 11th-most in NFL history, ahead of names like, Mike Holmgren and , and he is one of only 13 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls. His coaching tree includes names like Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton -- three coaches that worked directly for Parcells and have combined for six Super Bowl championships.
Though there are negatives on his career record, such as his dubious exits from franchises before seeing them through to the end, and that his second Super Bowl title was tremendously aided by a missed Scott Norwood field goal, his legacy remains strong.
Parcells took over four franchises at dark times in their history and took each of them to the playoffs. In the cases of the Giants, Patriots and Jets, he guided them to some of their best moments in history. He may not have been inducted during his first year of eligibility, but much like his coaching career, he has eventually won and his legacy continues on.