A constant of the human condition is that everybody, wants to be wanted, including Bill Parcells.
And make no mistake about it, Parcells was wanted by the New Orleans Saints, or at least by the top two football operation decision makers,
both of whom are about to enter into Roger Goodell's purgatory.
But what Parcells apparently wants even more than the opportunity to
jump out of retirement again, and to the aid of ol' friend Sean Payton,
is a gold blazer from the Hall of Fame. And it is principally because
of that near-obsession with Canton immortality that Parcells passed on
the opportunity to grab the reins, even on an interim basis, of a team
that could become the NFL's first franchise to play in a Super Bowl
game in its home stadium.
Sure, owner Tom Benson may not have signed off yet on the Parcells
flirtation, but there is a pretty good chance the New Orleans steward
would have been hypnotized once again by the silver-tongued entreaties
of Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. And, no, we're not buying
into the very popular notion that the peripatetic Parcells might yet
reverse his decision and return to the sideline.
For now at least, we're doing something that historically has proven
both frivolous and frustrating, and taking Parcells at his word.
Yet this query: Might Parcells' candidacy for Canton be better served
by staying out of the New Orleans mess or by having waded into it?
Good question, one with which Parcells, who embraces drama even more
than, say, Meryl Streep, likely struggled the past couple weeks. And
with good reason.
Parcells was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in February, making the
list of the final 15 modern-day candidates, and even advancing into the
last 10 in the reduction voting by the 44 selectors. But the legendary
coach was eliminated in the cutdown to five, all of whom were elected.
He will doubtless garner serious consideration for the Class of 2013 as
well, but Parcells is no slam-dunk to survive the preliminary paring to
25 semifinalists and then 15 finalists.
The nine other finalists from the 2012 class who did not get the nod
this year will present an august group, for sure. And they will be
augmented by players in their first year of Hall eligibility, such as
Larry Allen, Morten Andersen, Priest Holmes, John Lynch, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp and a few others.
Parcells' record of 183-138-1 holds up well, and his victories
(counting playoffs) are the 10th most in league history, but there are
three coaches with more wins (Marty Schottenheimer, Dan Reeves and
Chuck Knox) who are not in the Hall of Fame. And of the men who have at
least 100 wins and have coached 250 games or more, four have better
winning percentages than Parcells' .570 mark, yet aren't in Canton.
If netting two Super Bowl wins, as Parcells has done, simply qualified
for an automatic pass, then Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson and George
Seifert would be in the Hall of Fame.
And they aren't.
Three Super Bowl wins, though, opens the doors wide, as history has
demonstrated. All three of the coaches with three Super Bowl victories
who are eligible for Hall of Fame inclusion -- Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs,
Bill Walsh -- have busts in the shrine. Bill Belichick, who is still
active, is a mortal lock, to the degree that one exists in this
The Sinners, or Saints, who despite the bounty scandal remain fraught
with talent, might have provided Parcells the hat-trick necessary to
secure a Hall of Fame niche. And so the itch to fill in for the
banished Payton for a year, and to pocket another $5 million or so to
wager on the thoroughbreds at Saratoga, might have been tempting to
Yet part of Parcells' legacy, indeed an essential element of the Hall
presentation made on his behalf two months ago, was his ability to
perform reclamation projects with the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and the Dallas Cowboys. He was the consummate
fix-it man, the MacGyver of head coaches, a guy who could take the
football equivalent of a paper clip, a hair pin, and a ballpoint pen,
and turn those unlikely ingredients into something workable.
In New Orleans, Parcells wouldn't have been so much the returning
prodigal as he would have been a substitute teacher. Minus maybe the
spitballs. At soon to be 71 -- he would have been 76 the next time he
would have been eligible for the Hall of Fame, since the five-year
clock would have been reset, were Parcells opted to have emerged from
retirement again -- a temp job isn't quite as alluring.
Hall of Fame induction is permanent. And while it might be naive to
consider that "never" is really "never" with Parcells, permanent
apparently trumps part-time.
Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has
covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall
of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the
winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.
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