There came 1999, and some “same old Jets” karma came back to haunt. The team was favored to win the Super Bowl, and Vinny Testaverde goes down week one. However, in the way that only Bill Parcells can, he didn’t let the team quit. No, they played hard every week, and once Ray Lucas took over the quarterback position the team took off.
They finished 6-2 over the last half of the season, leaving them with an 8-8 record. I remember during the last game, which the team won, against the Seattle Seahawks, the home crowd was thundering with the chant, “One more year!! One more year!! One more year!” It seemed like there was no way that Bill wouldn’t come back, not with that cheering occurring.
Well, he stepped down one day later. Bill stayed on as general manager for the 2000 season, and then was gone. With that, I spent a great deal of time mad at coach Parcells. First of all, it was the first time in Parcells’ career that he didn’t spend enough time to take his team to the Super Bowl. And, it happened to the Jets? Our Jets! The only team that Bill Parcells didn’t take to the Super Bowl at the point. He could have stayed one more year. The team would have been back at full force, and likely a favorite to get to the dance once again. But instead, he left, and I was ticked off.
That anger increased when he returned to coaching with the Cowboys in 2003. Why? Because he said chapter and verse about how 1999 was the last year he would coach. He even wrote a book about it. And then he came back? How dare he spurn the Jets, after he didn’t even bring them to a Super Bowl? I was mad at Bill for a long time after that. As a fan, I felt cheated. I felt like he had no regard for Jets fans, or the late Leon Hess who wanted him so badly, if he could behave that way, and I was hurt.
However, my feelings have softened towards the big guy. Why? Because he took the Jets out of the bottom. He got rid of the reputation for being synonymous with “loser”. He gave the Jets legitimacy, and credibility. Bill Parcells goes to your team, that team must be treated with respect, and that is what he brought to the New York Jets. That was priceless. How could I stay mad at him?
Congratulations to Bill Parcells on his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s only his second year of eligibility, but it was STILL overdue in my book.