Former Giants Head Coach Bill Parcells
Q: What does it mean for you to be a member of the Ring of Honor?
A: I'm certainly very, very honored and very appreciative, and I'm thankful to the Giant organization for considering me for this. It's certainly something that I will cherish, I know that. And I would say that I was very fortunate to come along and just be in the right place at the right time with strong ownership with the Mara family for the most part and then right at the end there with the Tisches, and then of course a good GM in George Young. And then I was very fortunate to have hired some great assistant coaches. Four or five of them have gone on to be NFL head coaches and a couple other college coaches. And that was certainly a great help to me. And then the players that I had there were - I had some of the very, very best players that a coach could want, and we were able to collect enough of them and keep them together for awhile in those days. So I think it's just a tribute to all of those people, and I'm just happy to receive this. I really am genuinely happy.
Q: Coach, are you coming on Sunday night?
A: I'm not going to be able to. I had a previous, long time ago, planned something and I just cannot get there. But I do hope to get there at some point in time to, one, see the new stadium which I haven't seen, and two, to kind of go through some of things that they have there. I'm anxious to do that, and I'm going to do it as soon as I can.
Q: You mentioned George Young. How great a role did he play in your success with the way he supported you, especially through that first year?
A: Well he certainly was a big help to me. I think the main thing that I can say that worked well for George and myself was that philosophically - and the personnel acquisition - we never really had any strong difference of opinion about what to try to do. Now obviously there's an individual thing here or there that we discussed and maybe one of us thought one thing and the other thought another. But overall the philosophy of what we were trying to do and how we were trying to build a team and the critical factors for the players that were going to be on the team, we were very, very much on the same page on that along with the personnel department, which obviously he was in charge of. So that was really a big help because the scouts and the front office people were bringing me the type of players that they knew I would like. They knew I wanted to work with a certain style of player, and we tried to fit that into the philosophy that we were using. And when you're there for awhile, they get used to knowing what you're looking for and they're able to get it for you. And that's really what happened.
Q: Having coached the Giants and Jets, can you lend perspective on what's unique about coaching in this market?
A: Well, I think first of all the Giants is one of the flagship franchises - certainly, arguably one of two flagship franchises - and coincidentally they'll both be in the stadium Sunday night, in the league. And so it has a great history, and then of course the Jets have come along and done a good job as well. But I just think that New York is a big stage, and it's a place where people are interested in professional sports. I think that's one thing that's unique about New York. It's certainly much more of a professional sports town than a college sports town, and some of the other cities around the country have kind of varying degrees of interest in pro sports as opposed to college sports. But New York is definitely a pro sports town.
Q: You of course have to study all 31 teams, but do you read up on the Giants more, or is it just too far in your past at this point?
A: Well, it's not so much that I don't have interest. I grew up very close to that stadium there and was a Giant fan as a young boy, and I remember going to the games in the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium and listening to them on the radio and watching the Giants Quarterback Huddle on TV and all those things. So I always have an interest, but you're just not able to keep up with really what's going on, on a daily basis. So you know whether they win or lose like you know what every team in the league wins or loses, but on a day-to-day basis, no I can't say that I can keep track.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about the Giants' leadership and sort of the direction they're getting from up top. I'm curious, from your personal perspective in coaching, how did you try to talk specifically with your leaders or captains to disseminate a message to the team or speak through them? What was your philosophy on that?
A: Well I think it was a little bit of a different generation in this respect that the players that I had were able to stay together. There wasn't such a transient nature to the business, and so the leadership on the team was pretty consistent for a number of years. And I was very fortunate to have George Martin and Harry Carson and of course Phil Simms and Lawrence (Taylor), and these guys were together all the time - Jim Burt - and they were together for a long time. So a lot of them, there wasn't any transition in leadership. Everybody knew who was doing what, and nowadays it's a little more difficult process for teams because the continuity is so much different.
Q: Are you still in regular touch with Lawrence Taylor?
A: I wouldn't say "regular touch." I have seen him quite a number of times since I've been in south Florida because he was living down here. I haven't seen him in quite awhile maybe I would say probably four or five months.
Q: Back on the question of leadership, how did you see it manifest itself differently with different people? I know Phil wasn't necessarily a vocal guy, but was it possible for each person to reach the locker room in their own unique way?
A: I don't think there's a set pattern of leadership, and there are no rules and regulations that you can follow. I think of a person that has the ability to kind of lead and people follow or listen, but it's an acquired thing. It's just not built in. You don't just come in as a high draft choice or a free agent from another team, and you just don't come in and completely take over a new situation because you're not well known enough. So I think it takes a little time, and I don't know, quite frankly, how the whole evolution goes. What I do say, I think leadership is important but I don't think it's something that teams are totally without. I mean there are guys on every team that have that ability that people respect, and they should be the ones that go forward with it.
Q: People say that the coach isn't on the field to make the plays, but in your case, how much did you do to set a tone for how things should be done on the team?
A: I tried to do what I thought was right to give my team the best chance to win. And I tried to teach them as probably almost every coach does. The things that allow you to win are the things that cause you to lose, and you just try to emphasize them enough to where in key times the players respond favorably to that. But there are certain players that no matter what you do at the critical time and under pressure, you can't make them behave a certain way. It has to be ingrained, and it has to be something that they understand and are aware of. Sometimes guys just aren't. I've always been a big thing - everybody said "penalties." Well, as a coach, I never really believed penalties were my fault. I always believed that all penalties could be eliminated with concentration or good judgment. So you try to create a situation where the players concentrate, and you try to create a situation where the players use good judgment. But you can't make them do that. They have to do that. Things like that I think the coaches get stuck with - and of course I'm prejudiced because I was a coach - I think they get stuck with, 'Oh, well penalties are their fault.' Well really in reality, I don't think they are. There is no coach teaching his team to commit penalties.
Q: What was your happiest day as a Giant?
A: Well that's a good one now. That's a good question. I would say, probably the two happiest days I ever had as a Giant was when Matt Bahr kicked the field goal in San Francisco to win the NFC Championship game, 15-13, because that was a game that many people didn't think that we had a chance. We had our backup quarterbacks. San Francisco was going for a three-peat. We were on the road. It was pretty gratifying there. And then I think our rivalry with the Redskins. There were a couple of those games down at RFK. One night Raul Allegre kicked the field goal on a night game down there on the last play of the game, and that was a pretty gratifying thing. I'd be remiss if I didn't say the Super Bowls because they were - certainly the second one was right to the wire. And I always felt like that it would have been a shame had we lost that game, and we could have. But I always felt like it would have been a shame because I really think that we did a better job in that game and our players did a better job than the opponent did. And it would have been sad for us to lose that one, bur fortunately we didn't. I would say that NFC championship in San Francisco was one of the best times, and certainly the plane ride to Tampa, which was about five hours, was one of the happiest times of my whole life and is certainly vivid in my recollection. And I think anybody who was on that plane, it's pretty vivid.
Q: Can you give us any stories of what happened on that plane?
A: Well, I wouldn't say it was a party atmosphere, but it was euphoric. I'm not saying we didn't have a couple of drinks because we did. It was just a kind of a euphoric time for all of us, and I think everybody who was on that plane felt a great sense of accomplishment. Then of course the trip ends, and my secretary, Kim Kolbe, is waiting for us in Tampa and she's got our keys. That plane ride ends and we go right to work. But it was a happy time.
Q: How much does it mean to you, how proud are you that a big part of your Giants legacy is the fact that so many of your assistant coaches have gone on to be successful head coaches, including Tom who has won a Super Bowl?
A: I've always felt that being able to have good coaches and good assistants in every industry has proved to be very important. And you know what, I have a couple other guys that after I left the Giants have gone on and have become NFL coaches, and coach Sean Payton was one and having been a former Giant himself that's won a Super Bowl. So I do take a lot of pride in that because I think one of the things you have to be able to do to succeed in this business is get good people to help you. And I think you could make a case that that coaching staff that I had with the Giants there had to be among the very best. I mean I don't think anyone could dispute the fact that there were some talented coaches on that staff, and I was very lucky to have them.
Q: There's been a lot of talk up here about losing control and lack of leadership. I think Tiki Barber even said Coughlin is in a crisis mode right now. What's your take on Coughlin? I mean it's only 1-2, three weeks into the season.
A: Well you're asking the wrong guy because I'm a big Tom Coughlin man. I'm a big fan of Tom's, and I know what kind of coach he is. Nobody has to tell me, I know. And I'm not interested in what the naysayers or other people say about him. I think he's a good man. I think he's proved to be a sound coach over the years. He's taken the team to a championship. Hey, we all come on rough times once in awhile, but I have every confidence in Tom.
Q: Now that you've relinquished the day-to-day control down in Miami, what's next for you?
A: Well that's a good question. I'm not a "sit around the fireplace" guy. I don't know. I'm not certain about it. We'll see what happens when the time comes, but I know I want to do something even if it's not day-to-day or something like that. I know I want to do something. I don't like sitting around. I like to get up and get out and go do something. So we'll figure it out when the time comes.
Q: You talked about how the league has changed, how before you were able to keep that core group of Giants together for a good number of years. Have the players themselves changed? Towards the end of your coaching tenure, did you have to find different ways to reach them?
A: No. No. What I think has changed is the number of people around the players. I don't think the players have changed. I think they're young guys, they want to know what to do. They want to compete. They want to win. They want to do those things, and I think the players are not much different. The people around the players and the people around the league are different. There are a lot of different venues and agendas and motivations exercised by people in regard to the players that sometimes are not in concert with trying to win. So I think all of us have been faced now with this volume of additional people around the players and talking to them and telling them things. A lot f times those things aren't accurate.
Q: What are the odds on Sage (Vinny DiTrani) coming back next year?
A: You know, Sage thinks he's retiring, but I know Sage. And I will say this, he's one of the very greatest football writers that I have ever run into, and I'm prejudiced because I have a very, very high personal regard for him. But I've actually told him recently that he's like me. He's not going to sit around and do nothing. He's going to do something. The only thing that can keep him sitting around is food. That'll keep him sitting around, but he has certainly been a great resource to a lot of young writers I know. He's a top football guy. He knows exactly what he's doing. Doesn't follow the waiver wire all that accurately all the time because he's had inactive guys active a couple times.
Q: How is your health?
A: I'm doing pretty good. I'm doing pretty good. I've got my weight way down and I'm feeling pretty good. I work out good. So I've been pretty fortunate. You have little things here or there, but when you're my age that's what happens. You've just got to keep the truck moving if you can.
Q: Since you're not going to be able to make it up here on Sunday, is there any message you wanted to relay to the fans?
A: Yeah. Go Giants! That's all. I'm appreciative of them as well obviously because no one ever got better support than I did in that stadium. It was just unbelievable.