As successful as Bill Parcells’ coaching tree has become, his players were the ones that got him into the Hall of Fame. And among all the greats, one stood out enough to be selected as his presenter at the induction ceremony into Canton on Aug. 3 – former Giants defensive end George Martin.
“I’ve got to tell you, short of being inducted into the Hall of Fame myself, it was one of the greatest honors that I’d ever received,” Martin told ESPN Radio’s “The Michael Kay Show” on Monday. “As a matter of fact, my phone has been ringing nonstop with a lot of the congratulatory messages both for myself and to be passed onto Bill. And it is just something that I never thought would ever happen for me, particularly when you look at the swath of distinguished individuals that he could have selected to induct him into the Hall. So it’s a tremendous honor.” LISTEN: GEORGE MARTIN ON ESPN RADIO >>
Martin, who played his entire career with New York from 1975-1988, ran the gamut of the organization’s highs and lows. The apex was in 1986 when Parcells led the Giants to their first Super Bowl title, but it first took many years of sitting at home watching the playoffs to turn things around, including a 3-12-1 record in 1983 -- Parcells’ first year as head coach.
At that point, Martin didn’t necessarily believe the Giants would be champions three years later under Parcells.
“The obvious answer was ‘absolutely not,’” he said. “But it quickly dawned on us that there was something special about this guy because at that point in time he was our defensive coordinator. Something blossomed where he became just this guru. He had this, for the first time in my career, he had this ability to educate us about football. And it wasn’t just going out there and playing a game and letting the results speak for themselves. He sat down and he laid out a very strategic plan as to how we would attack the season and where we should be strategically as the season progressed.”
Martin was part of that plan both on the field and in the locker room. As a leader on the team, Martin didn’t realize until years later how much Parcells relied upon him. That was validated when Parcells called him this past weekend after being voted into the Hall of Fame. While it wasn’t a complete surprise – Martin said they had discussed the possibility before – it was an emotional call on Martin’s end.
“As Bill said to me when he asked me, he very bluntly said, ‘George, if it wasn’t for you, I never would have attained the level of success that I have,’” he recalled. “And that kind of caught me by surprise because we had many, many sessions in the early years where Bill realized and placed the shoulder of responsibility not just on himself but on those who he called ‘his guys.’”