The day Bill Parcells was introduced as head coach of the New York Jets was a new beginning in Jets history.It’s Super Bowl afternoon gang, just a little over four hours before the kickoff of Super Bowl 47. I am sure you are all prepping your homes, cooking, cleaning, or heading out to wherever you are going to watch the big game. But, for anyone looking at the computer, or checking in via mobile, a little reading for you.
With the Hall of Fame class being announced last night, and Bill Parcells leading the group, I thought it would be fun to look back, and remember Bill’s time with the Jets. It was a special time for Jets fans, let’s look back.
First remember where we came from, 4 wins over the previous 2 seasons under the great Rich Kotite. Rich discovered, and gave a chance to, Wayne Chrebet, but other than that, didn’t do very much for us. Then owner Leon Hess wanted to “win a championship before he died”. In walked Bill Parcells. Remember the arm wresting that the Jets had to do with the Patriots to get him? They were going to be forced to hire Bill as a consultant for one year, and then annoint him as the head coach. But, commissioner Paul Tagliabue brokered a deal between the two teams to allow Bill to take the job in 1997.
What a turnaround they had in 1997, am I right? Bill basically took the roster from 1996, and brought them to within one win of the playoffs. Had they won the final game of the season against the Detroit Lions, they would have made the turnaround from 1 win to a playoff team. The biggest problem Bill had with that team was his lack of trust for the quarterback, Neil O’Donnell. Anyone remember the halfback option with Leon Johnson? We were all shocked to see Bill take his feelings against a player so seriously that he would actually put the team in a bad situation, but that is what he did. Still, it was a great turnaround from 1-15 to 9-7.
Then, the big year of 1998, and the two additions seen here. Curtis Martin was acquired from the Patriots during the offseason, and immediately added credibility to the Jets’ running attack. You didn’t have Adrien Murrell anymore, you had the star, Curtis Martin, who went on to the first of many thousand yard rushing seasons with the Jets.
Vinny Testaverde was signed to backup Glenn Foley, but entered the third game of the season, and became the starter the rest of the way, which ended up being a great move by coach Parcells. Vinny had the season of his life in 1998, throwing for 29 TDs against only 7 INTs. The Jets went on to a 12-4 record to win the AFC East, and then a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round brought them to the AFC title game in Denver against the Broncos.
The Jets were leading that game at halftime, but allowed 23 second half, un-answered points as the Broncos won the game going away, 23-10, en route to winning the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons.
1999 was the year the Jets were favored to go to the Super Bowl, but Vinny Testaverde was lost for the season before the first game began, and the season was lost. Bill Parcells noted the move of allowing Rick Mirer to start too many games that year as the worst move he has ever made. The Jets were 2-6 before making the move to Ray Lucas at quarterback, and the team responded. They finished the season on a 6-2 run to finish the year at 8-8. Despite the chants of “one more year” from the Jets crowd during the final game, Parcells retired, that time.
He wasn’t the coach for very long, only three years. But what he did bring was something that the Jets were lacking for a long time. Credibility. They became an organization that the league finally had to pay attention to, and for that, Jet Nation will be forever grateful.
And now, he takes his rightful place in Canton, OH.