“I didn’t know Bill when he hired me. I coached against him because I had been in Philadelphia. (Pittsburgh’s) Chuck Noll called, so I was talking to two Hall of Fame coaches. They were both going to meet me at the Senior Bowl. So I was there and had dinner with Chuck Noll. With Bill, it was up in the room. One thing led to another. He hired me on the phone after that and I flew in.
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PHOTOS: Bill Parcells' Career
“You have to recognize the fact that each individual who has aspired to be one of the 32 in this world who are NFL head coaches is a unique personality and a unique individual.
Bill was certainly unique in his own right. I never had the privilege of being around Bill until I got hired by him. He knew exactly what he wanted. It was not going to be done any other way. There wasn’t a lot of discussion. He was a dictator, which was fine. That’s the only thing I had ever seen work. I’m talking old school.
“But once you got to know him, you discovered that Bill has a great personality. He loved to talk about sports, he loved boxing and baseball. He was a pretty good baseball player I understand. Mickey Corcoran (Parcells’ high school basketball coach and lifelong mentor) said Bill was not just locked in as a football guy. He loves horse racing. Anything competitive brought out the best in him. He had a great knack for just being worldly. He was a real worldly guy in terms of his personality and he had a sense of humor.
“When I came on board with Bill it was before free agency. He had a bunch of guys around him that knew him. He trusted them. They trusted him. He would ask people like Harry Carson to make sure that so and so as a rookie got it and Harry loved that responsibility. With Phil Simms and the great teams we had he loved the offensive and defensive linemen. That was his deal. They were very responsible guys. They were obviously good football players.
“Bill is a unique coach in a lot of ways. For example, he would study the other team’s roster and he knew the strengths and the weaknesses of every guy on the roster. He’s instinctive.
“I was here in ’88 and we didn’t make the playoffs. We were 10-6 and got beat by the Jets. The next year we got knocked out of the playoffs. And then the third year in ’90 we were 10-0. We lost Simms (to a foot injury). We lost three out of four games and started to get the criticism for being old. Obviously, the rest is history. One of the things that’s very important to remember is that Jeff Hostetler (who took over for Simms) was ready.
He was ready because of the way he practiced.
“Bill was hard on himself and he was hard on the scout teams. He expected people to carry out their assignments to the best of their ability so that he could get his work and they could, too. It was all the way in which Bill presented our team. We were a physically tough team. In those days, you were in pads twice a day. By the time that I came along, the players knew Bill and they knew what to expect and there was no question how we were going to operate. He took care of his players, but he never backed down from the principles that he believed in.
“We had a couple of the greatest games. That San Francisco NFC Championship game was one of the great games that anybody will ever be around. We got the strip on Roger Craig, recovered the fumble and got the big play down the sideline, (Jeff) Hostetler to (Stephen) Baker, and (Matt Bahr) kicked the field goal to win the game. We had our clothes packed for two weeks instead of one and went right to Tampa and beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl.
“Bill would open the door to the game plan room. I’d be drawing up passes and he’d say, ‘Take all that off of the board.’ I remember one time we were going down to play the Redskins. They had a great pass rush. We won a big game in the NFC East with the three step drops, slants and fades. I would’ve never believed it. He was just an astute guy.
“In those days, the offensive coaches were in one room and the defensive and special teams coaches were all in another room. Bill would come in a little bit before seven, sit down and he would just bust everybody’s (chops). He’d be after Fargo (Ron Ehrhardt). (Ray) Handley would stir it up. That was Ray’s job. Freddie (Hoaglin) was a target. (Michael) Pope (then and now the tight ends coach) and I would be over there in the corner hoping he didn’t start on us. But he was good at that. He liked to have fun. He was strictly Jersey. He was perfect for the job because he could banter with the best, back and forth, back and forth. He could dish it out, he could take it. He was good at it. He was really good at it.
“I’m an early morning guy. One morning we were at Fairleigh Dickenson. I loved camp over there. Our offices were over here, but our dorms were over there. So I’d walk or jog one way or the other. I’d be in there 6:30 a.m. One morning he comes in and says, ‘Come on.’ I say, ‘No Bill, I have stuff to do.’ But he says, ‘We’ll go down, get a cup of coffee and we’ll be right back. It will be two seconds.’ Okay. So I drive down and he’s got this deli he goes to and he opens the door and as soon as they see him and he starts busting them and they bust them. It’s the funniest thing. He had to have his hard roll. Here he is a Jersey guy and the coffee and after he got done busting everyone in the building, we left.
“Bill was very demanding. The thing that I’m still amazed at is we looked at the practice tape as an offensive and defensive staff every day and we did it in about a half an hour. He was amazing. He just flew through it. He knew what he wanted. He was gruff and he was tough and he was hard on the coaches, but he wasn’t hard on the players. He really wasn’t. He was gruff on the players, but he had his guys. Somewhere along the line he had made the decision that he was going to be tough on Simms. He was hard on Simms, but I think that was a message for anybody else that if he could talk to the quarterback like that, nobody is safe.
“I don’t think he ever had a script in his hand. He hated scripts. He’d tell you to throw your script away. He’d be off to the side. That’s how he watched practice. He was all over it, but there was always some kind of comment and if it was your player that screwed up, he was going to go right to you or say something right to you. He didn’t mind. He ripped (Bill) Belichick (then the defensive coordinator). He ripped everybody. But he was interested in team and he was interested in the coaches all doing their job to the best of their ability. It wasn’t about coordinator this or that. In order for us to be as good as we can be, you have to coach your position to the best of their ability and that’s the way he operated. He was very good at it.”