EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Bill Parcells strode the sideline for 322 regular season and postseason games as an NFL head coach. He won two Super Bowls and is the only coach in history to lead four different franchises to the playoffs. But he can easily identify the most memorable moment of his Hall of Fame career.
"If you pin me down," Parcells said on a national conference call today, "I would probably say the '90 Championship Game in San Francisco (in which the Giants defeated the 49ers, 15-13, on Matt Bahr's 42-yard field goal as time expired). We were heavy underdogs there that day, and San Francisco was going for their three-peat and we had lost our quarterback, Phil Simms, and we had Jeff Hostetler playing, who did a great job for us.
Parcells will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month. He is the 19th Hall of Famer who spent all or a significant portion of his career with the Giants. Parcells' longest stint with one team was his eight-year tenure with the Giants from 1983-90. His 77 regular-season victories with the Giants place him third among head coaches in the 88-year history of the franchise. The leader is Hall of Famer Steve Owen with 151, followed by current coach Tom Coughlin, who has 83 and counting.
Parcells was 8-3 in the postseason and led the Giants to victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV.
Near the end of the call, Parcells was asked who he would pick if he could start a team with any player he had seen, coached or coached against. He did not choose a record-setting quarterback, but instead selected a Giants player who preceded him into the Hall of Fame.
"There are priority positions in this game and quarterback is one of those, so I'd consider that," Parcells said. "But if you're pinning me down – I'm a little prejudiced – I think I'd take Lawrence Taylor. I know he's going to be there every Sunday and try his best to win the game."
Parcells was 172-139-1 (.569) in the regular season and 11-8 (.579) in the postseason. His overall record was 183-138-1 (.570). Parcells is ranked 10th in NFL history in both regular season and total victories.
In addition to his two Super Bowl victories with the Giants, Parcells led the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost to Green Bay. He is one of 13 head coaches with more than one Super Bowl victory, one of five coaches to lead two different franchises to the Super Bowl and the only head coach in NFL history to take four different franchises to the postseason.
Other highlights from Parcells' conference call, which was the first in a series with this year's Hall of Fame inductees.
*His thoughts on the NFL mandating the use of knee and thigh pads this season and whether his Giants players tried to remove them when he coached.
"It was a constant battle for me," Parcells said. "I was always one that was very adamant about wearing pads and I would fine my players if they didn't wear them. Now some of them got away with them or were taking them out once the game started, and you're not thinking about those things when the game is going on, really. But I'm glad that we are enforcing that, because I think the players sometimes don't know what's in their own best interest. I think wearing proper equipment is definitely in their best interest, and I've seen many, many injuries in my experience that came when proper equipment was not worn and could have been prevented. So I am all for that, 100 percent."
Parcells was asked which players he most frequently battled with regarding pads.
"Mostly the cornerbacks," he said. "The cornerbacks and the receivers were the two positions that I found to be the most flagrant violators. And it's a coincidence that they're the farthest people from the ball. You didn't usually have to worry about your linemen or a lot of your linebackers, any of the interior people. And even your running backs were pretty careful. But the people on the perimeter of the defense were the ones I always had trouble with."
*On how he developed his oft-praised "push the right buttons" technique to inspire his players.
"The ability to motivate someone is really a very, very much overrated thing, I think," Parcells said. "I think it's impossible to motivate someone who is not a self-starter in his own regard. My job as a coach, assuming that they are interested in improving and developing their skills, was just trying to direct them. You have all kinds of personalities that you have to deal with. Some are reclusive and don't talk much and are not communicative. You have a little trouble figuring out what they're thinking. You have to get to them and get them to explain what's going on with them mentally. Then you have others who are high-strung and are anxious mentally and they waste a lot mentally doing something that's not important. You have to recognize and appreciate the different characteristics that people have before you can even go about trying to teach them.
"I viewed myself as a teacher. I grew up in a family that was confrontational, so I think I carried some of that forward with me. In the long run, pushing buttons – I really am not sure what that means, other than you're trying to get people that maybe they don't understand how to do it, exactly. That's sometimes the hard part."
*On whether upon his election to the Hall of Fame if he reminisced about his first coaching job, at Hastings College in Nebraska in 1964.
"Absolutely, I did," Parcells said. "As a matter of fact, the funny thing about that job and coincidentally the man who hired me, Dean Pryor, is going to be at the induction ceremony and that was my first coaching job and he was the head coach. He brought me to Hastings for just one season. It was kind of a part-time thing, and you learned an awful lot of things, you had to do things you didn't consider. Like we had to wash the players' uniforms after practice – I had to do that some. But I will say this, and I'm going to say this in my speech, he taught me and he preached to me something that I carried with me my entire coaching career, and that is that the players deserve a chance to win and you have an obligatory responsibility to try to give it to them. So that was a vital piece of information.
"That means you as a coaching staff, you as an individual coach, have a responsibility to try to give these players who are putting their self at risk and in harm's way to have a chance to achieve success. And that goes for universities and professional teams as well. I know that I preached that to every organization and to every coaching staff I ever had – these guys deserve a chance to win and we've got to give it to them."
*On whether Mickey Corcoran, his basketball coach at River Dell High School and a lifelong mentor, will be in Canton for Parcells' induction ceremony, and if he's thought about what he'll say in his speech.
"Mickey is going to be there, but he's not going to be my presenter," Parcells said. "George Martin is, my former Giants co-captain for eight or nine years (Parcells was Curtis Martin's presenter last year). I have obviously thought about things I'm going to say. I haven't written anything down, nor probably will I write too much down. I'm just going to get up there and try to thank the people that had something to do with me being there and tell you just maybe one or two things about my experience as a coach and what are the important things I got from that experience. I think that will be about it."
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