Memories of Hall of Famer Bill Parcells and the New York Jets


When Bill Parcells arrived in Gotham to coach the New York Jets, the most important trait the Jets was credibility.Last night was the unofficial beginning of the new NFL season, as the new class was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Just an aside, if you haven’t had the pleasure of going to the Hall, you must. It’s awesome. But anyway, moving on. One of the inductees, as I am sure you all are aware, was Bill Parcells.

During his time with the Jets, he made a big impact on the team, and us as fans. With his induction last night, I wanted to take us back to his time in New York and remember fondly. Well, fondly for the most part, I’ll explain.

Let’s go back to 1996, where the story begins. We had just come off of our wonderful 1-15 season, while Bill Parcells had just taken the Patriots to the Super Bowl, the third of his career. All the while, however, there had been the rumblings that Bill wanted out of New England, and Leon Hess wanted to bring him to New York. I was in college in upstate New York, had no ESPN to watch, and didn’t have a computer in my dorm room. I had to follow this story from a library computer.

And I did, checking the story every morning before I went to class. All I knew was that we were trying to get a coach that had been to three Super Bowls, winning two of them. How awesome! There was the tug of war that really ignited the rivalry, the signing of Bill as a consultant, and then finally as the coach. I could almost dance down the hallway after he was named the new coach. Why?

Because the Jets had credibility. No longer could the Jets simply be called, “the same old Jets”, because now we had THE coach. Bill Parcells, the guy that turns teams around completely, was now OUR coach. Based on his history, there was no reason not to believe that he would take us to a Super Bowl during his tenure. We were the Jets, with Bill Parcells as the coach.

1997 comes and the Jets turn it around big time. 9-7, and we were in the playoff hunt up until the end of the season. Bill did this, and basically was using the same team that went 1-15 the year before. Now the excitement is in full force. In just one year, the Jets turned it around from 1-15 to 9-7. I was loving me some Bill Parcells! What did the future hold?

Only the most special Jets’ season of my life to date, that was what. Curtis Martin signs with the Jets, and now the running game has a star. Much like when the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, all of a sudden you had to take the on field Jets talent seriously. And Curtis came on and led the team almost to the football pinnacle. They finished 12-4 in 1998, and went to an AFC title game appearance that they were winning at halftime. Had the Jets won that game, I firmly believe, as does Curtis Martin, that they would have won the Super Bowl. The future even looks better, and we have Bill Parcells to thank.

Aug 3, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Bill Parcells poses with his bust at the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.