Hall of Fame inductees probably have fewer regrets than most, but Bill Parcells has at least one thing that has been eating at his mind. He told USA Today recently that if he had to do his coaching career over, he would not have been so quick to leave the New England Patriots after the team's 1996 Super Bowl loss.
Parcells left New England over a feud with owner Robert Kraft. The two butted heads, with Parcells demanding a larger say in personnel decisions and Kraft uneasy about a year-to-year contract that allowed Parcells to decide if/when he was returning to the team each season. After the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl, Parcells did not fly back with the team and instead took an advisory job with the New York Jets that quickly turned into a head coaching position.
Both men admit that they were too headstrong at the time. Thankfully, they have since reconciled. Via USA Today:
"At a Super Bowl, Bill was standing there as I approached, and he just said to me, 'If I had to do it all over again. I would have done things differently.' And I said, 'So would I,'" Kraft told USA TODAY Sports.
"It would have been pretty special," Kraft said. "We were just coming at it from different times. And so much in life is timing. But in the end, we have a great relationship today. I have great respect for him. He did a great deal for our franchise. And I will forever be grateful for that."
After Parcells left, Kraft turned the team over to Pete Carroll, who was fired after three seasons following the Patriots' postseason-less 1999 season. From there, Kraft hired Bill Belichick and the Patriots went on the win a whole bunch of Super Bowls. But while Parcells' departure may have put in motion a series of events that helped make the Patriots one of the league's most successful teams of the last decade-plus, Parcells believes he may have missed an opportunity to pick up his third Super Bowl ring.
"You know who I had?'' Parcells asks rhetorically. "Curtis Martin, Ben Coates, Tedy Bruschi, Terry Glenn, Willie McGinest, Drew Bledsoe, Shawn Jefferson, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown and Adam Vinatieri. Nobody knows that I signed him.''
Under different circumstances, Parcells may have stayed in New England a few seasons longer, and as a result may have changed the course of the NFL as we know it.