Is The Big Tuna Hall Worthy?

Former Patriots coach Bill Parcells is a finalist for the team's Hall of Fame. In part 2 of 3, Kevin Saleeba takes a look back at the Parcells' days in New England and the impact he had on the organization.

 Patriots Hall Finalists
  Houston Antwine
  Bill Parcells
  Drew Bledsoe

  Patriots Hall Official Site
     A crowd of cameras, reporters, and Patriots fans gathered in the Foxboro Stadium parking lot following the final game of the 1993 season.  They were all waiting for one man.

     Even some Patriots players hung out with their friends and family, mingling with fans as they stood near their cars. The Patriots just capped a four game win streak to end the season by beating rival Miami in a thrilling overtime game. There was a new sense of optimism in the Sunday night air for a franchise previously mired in turmoil and chaos.

     And suddenly Coach Bill Parcells immerged from the stadium doors to gleeful cheers of fans screaming "Thank you Bill! Thanks for saving our team!" It was as if he was floating among the sea of people surrounding him as he made his way to his car. After a quick smile and wave to the fans, Parcells was gone.

     To call Bill Parcells the savior of the New England Patriots organization is an understatement. Following the 1992 season, the New England Patriots were an embarrassment to the league. They finished an abysmal 2-14. Sam Jankovich, the team's chief operating officer, quit; the team fired head coach Dick MacPherson after two seasons and an 8-24 record; Foxboro Stadium was more than half empty on game days; ownership was in flux; and there were constant threats of the team moving out of New England.

T. Law
Law was key in New England's success, even after Parcells.
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)
     "I remember going there, and in all honesty, the franchise was in, I don't want to use the word disarray, but it certainly was unsettled," Parcells recently told the New England media during a conference call following his nomination for enshrinement into the Patriots Hall of Fame. "It was a big undertaking."

     Everything changed immediately when Parcells was hired. The Patriots had an instant hike in season ticket sales that offseason. There was an excitement not seen in New England since their 1985 AFC Championship. Parcells brought to the Patriots the clout of two Super Bowl Championship rings he earned with the Giants. With that came instant credibility among fans and players.

     First thing he did was acquire talent to go with the good players already on the roster. Parcells said he was pleased to add players like Drew Bledsoe, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Curtis Martin, Adam Vinatieri, and Terry Glenn to players already on the team like Ben Coates, Bruce Armstrong, Sam Gash and Maurice Hurst. Many of these players would help the Patriots win multiple Super Bowls for the franchise long-after Parcells left.

     "I think that was the beginning of some personnel continuity," said Parcells, who also was a linebackers coach in 1980 for the Patriots under Ron Erhardt. "And some of those kids have gone on to be, as you know, some of the great players in Patriots history. And so, I do get a sense of accomplishment in that because there are some real quality players there that made a significant contribution to the development of the franchise."

     Parcells would coach the Patriots from 1993 to 1996 and helped the team make the playoffs twice. In 1994, the same year Robert Kraft bought the team, the Patriots clinched their first playoff berth in eight years following a seven game win streak to end the season. Two seasons later, the Patriots won their first AFC East Division title in 10 years with an 11-5 record. That year, the Patriots beat the Steelers and the Jaguars to make the franchise's second Super Bowl appearance.

Parcells and Kraft
Parcells and Kraft had an eventual falling out after their Super Bowl .
(Robert Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images))
     The 1996 season would be his last in New England due to friction with Kraft.  During the 1996 NFL Draft, Parcells wanted to draft a pass rusher with the seventh overall pick, but Kraft vetoed Parcells' pick to draft receiver Terry Glenn instead. The rift between coach and owner proved to be the beginning of the end as Parcells left to coach the rival Jets the following season.

     "They want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries," Parcells said about the team drafting Glenn against his wishes in 1996.

     Looking back at the situation, Parcells said he regrets the way he left. "Let's say we had a couple domestic misunderstandings with the ownership. I do regret that," he said. "Those things have since been resolved. I think retrospectively, I would've handled things substantially differently than I did. And, I was always saddened by the fact that I had to leave there, and in all honesty, didn't really want to.

     "I do feel like when Robert Kraft took over the team, that was really a major step for stability for the franchise and for the Patriots
themselves," Parcells said. "And of course, now it's one of the premier franchises."

     On being nominated to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Parcells said "I'm very flattered I would be considered with both Drew [Bledsoe] and Houston Antwine. It's quite a surprise to me, but I'm very flattered to be in that group, and have very fond memories of my two times that I worked in New England."

Fans can vote for their favorite Patriots Hall of Fame finalist at the team's official website. Voting ends May 15th


Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin (here. )


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