By Steve Silverman
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Bill Parcells is going into the NFL Hall of Fame this weekend and he is fully worthy of the induction.
Parcells was definitely a “my way or the highway” kind of head coach, and it seems pretty clear that that style will no longer make it in the NFL. But it suited Parcells and he made the most of his opportunities.
I had a chance to cover Parcells even before he was head coach of the New York Giants. He was an assistant under head coach Ray Perkins, and if you thought Parcells was tough to deal with, you should have seen Perkins. A Bear Bryant disciple, Perkins could shoot a withering look with his cold blue eyes like nobody I’ve ever seen.
He would use that look on players, assistants and reporters. I never saw it, but I imagine he must have used that look on Parcells a time or two because he used it on everybody.
During the 1981 season, Parcells was the Giants’ linebackers coach, and a pretty decent linebacker named Lawrence Taylor was a rookie. Parcells knew exactly what he had in Taylor from the earliest days in training camp. He may not have known that Taylor would earn a spot as one of the top five football players of all time, but he knew that he was an explosive athlete with a mean streak who enjoyed going on search-and-destroy missions.
After some practices and games that season, Parcells would speak with reporters openly about his linebackers and the schemes that the team used. Those were different times. Coaches would never speak openly about game plans and strategy today, but if you could follow what Parcells was saying, you could truly learn right from the source.
If you were a player and didn’t pick up on what he was saying and you asked a “stupid” question, Parcells would deliver an answer with a cutting edge. However, he would also help you to understand the nuances of linebacker play in the NFL and he would also give you the lowdown on the capabilities of his players.
Now, he did not do this every day, but he would do it enough that you could get a true education on how the game is played and how a coach thinks.
Parcells obviously changed his methods once he became a head coach and he understood how to motivate his players. That had to be his greatest strength as a head coach. He got to know his players well, and he knew what made each and every one of them tick.
He would use his knowledge of his individual players to get them to perform at their best. He did this as well as any coach, perhaps taking a back seat to the incomparable Vince Lombardi, but no one else.
One person who should be incredibly grateful to Parcells is Phil Simms. The long-time Giants quarterback led the G-Men to their first Super Bowl following the 1986 season and his remarkable 22-of-25 passing performance in Super Bowl XXI against the Denver Broncos remains one of the greatest Super Bowl passing shows in the game’s history.
Simms struggled to learn the nuances of quarterback at the NFL level. His early years were not special even though he had one of the best arms in the game. He was often inconsistent, indecisive and stubborn. He drove Perkins crazy and one of Parcells’ first moves was to bench Simms.
However, Parcells was able to bring Simms along and help him develop his talent. It was not easy, but it certainly paid off for both men. Simms is still getting the benefit as the No. 1 analyst on CBS telecasts.
Parcells had success with the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys, but it’s with the Giants that he made his bones. He was able to clear a path for his players and lead them to the promised land, and they took advantage.
He was a sharp-tongued coach who knew the game inside and out and he always got results. The Hall of Fame is the right place for him.
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