This is a couple of days old, but I only got around to reading the story last night. The New York Times has an occasional sports magazine supplement, and this week, they published a nice article on Bill Parcells:
Bill Parcells is the only coach in N.F.L. history to take four different teams to the playoffs, but that only begins to set him apart. In 1983, in his first N.F.L. head coaching job, he took over a New York Giants team that had one winning season over the previous decade, turned it around on a dime and led it to Super Bowl titles in the 1986 and 1990 seasons. In 1993, he became head coach of the New England Patriots a year after they finished 2-14. Two seasons later they were 10-6 and in the playoffs for the first time in eight years; another two seasons later, they were in the Super Bowl. From there Parcells went to the Jets, who were coming off a 1-15 season, and coached them to a 9-7 record in his first year and a 12-4 record in his second. The Cowboys had finished 5-11 three seasons in a row before Parcells arrived in 2003. His first year they were 10-6 and reached the playoffs. No N.F.L. coach has ever proven himself so clearly to be a device for turning a losing team into a winning one. And yet, even now, as he begins his 16th season as a head coach in the N.F.L., he lives the psychological equivalent of a hand-to-mouth existence.
The article follows Parcells for eight days back in September, from just after the loss to the Jaguars until just after the win over the Redskins, and it's a fascinating look at the life of an NFL head coach. Like most big-time sports figures, Parcells is an obsessive sort of guy, leading a very narrowly constrained life. Unlike a lot of big-time sports figures, he seems to be aware of it (though it doesn't come up until near the end of the piece).
Parcells is a somewhat controversial figure-- Patriots fans in particular tend to feel that he betrayed them by openly negotiating with the Jets during the Pats' first Super Bowl run back in the mid-90's. I don't really share that sense of betrayal, as he left my Giants on fairly good terms after the 1991 Super Bowl, but I would rather have seen him take just about any other coaching job than the hated Cowboys.
There's also some interesting stuff in there about the quarterback situation, that blew up this past week. I bet the sports editors at the Times were downright gleeful when Drew Bledsoe got benched, because of the increased relevance of this piece. I didn't stay up to see the game, but I gather Tony Romo looked pretty good against the Panthers (unlike his debut against the Giants...). It remains to be seen whether that represents a real solution to Dallas's problems, or just the Dean Smith Rule game. Either way, it's clear that Parcells will probably be kept up late worrying about it.
(The magazine also has an interesting photo essay on the injuries of some long-time NFL players, if you're wondering why Tiki Barber is in such a hurry to retire. It's on the web site, but as a Java-based slide show thing, and I can't figure out how to link to it directly.)
"I didn't stay up to see the game, but I gather Tony Romo looked pretty good against the Panthers (unlike his debut against the Giants...). It remains to be seen whether that represents a real solution to Dallas's problems, or just the Dean Smith Rule game. Either way, it's clear that Parcells will probably be kept up late worrying about it."
Yes, the Times article was very interesting. There was something a little sad about the fact that Parcells seems to have little in his life that he cares about except football coaching. What was remarkable was the absolute childlike glee he exhibited near the end of the Panthers game when it was clear Dallas would win. He was even patting TO on the back and flipping his hat sideways in a very jovial manner. Parcells usually maintains a very grim demeanor no matter whether his team is winning or losing.
Jets fans weren't very happy when he left, either, especially when Bill Belichick bolted as well rather than take over the job.
Good grief, that was depressing.
I mean, ObBooHiss. But still. Depressing.