Bill Parcells is one of professional football's most successful head coaches. Known for his ability to motivate players, the burly New Jersey native markedly improved the fortunes of each of the three NFL teams of which he was given control.
Bill Parcells is one of only two men to lead two different franchises to the Super Bowl. After a playing career that included stops at Colgate University and Wichita State University, he began his coaching career in 1964 as a defensive assistant at Hastings College. He returned to Wichita State in 1965 as a defensive line coach before coming back east in 1966 to coach at Army. After four years at West Point, Parcells left for stints at Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Texas Tech. His first head coaching position came at the Air Force Academy in 1978. After completing his college apprenticeship, Bill Parcells was ready to move on to football's grand stage, the NFL. In 1979, he joined Ray Perkins' staff as an assistant coach with the New York Giants. He moved briefly for one season to the New England Patriots in 1980 as linebackers coach before returning to the Giants as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, the position he held until taking over as head coach in 1983. Parcells inherited a moribund 4-5 team from the strike-shortened 1982 season and, following a 3-12-1 campaign in 1983, enjoyed a remarkable run of 9, 10, 14, 10, 12, and 13-win seasons between 1984 and 1990 that saw the Giants win two Super Bowls and three division titles. He won special praise for developing a dominant defense centered around linebacker Lawrence Taylor, one of the game's most feared pass rushers. Parcells' finest moment with the Giants may have been the 1991 Super Bowl, when he devised a ball control game plan that stifled the Buffalo Bills' dynamic offensive attack. The Giants won the game 21-19 when a last-second Buffalo field goal missed its mark.
After that victory, Bill Parcells entertained job offers from several other NFL teams. But concerns about his health prompted him to resign from the NFL, at least temporarily. He spent two years as an analyst for NBC Sports, serving in roles ranging from studio host to color commentator. Given medical clearance by his physicians, Parcells resumed his coaching career with the New England Patriots in 1993. Parcells took over a Patriots squad that went 2-14 in 1992 and, within two years, helped guide the team to its first playoff game in eight years. Then, in his fourth year, the Patriots went 11-5, good for first place in the division, the AFC East, and a first round playoff bye, setting up two home playoff wins that put them into the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. That accomplishment placed Parcells alongside Don Shula (Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts) as one of only two coaches to lead two separate teams to Super Bowls.
Next, Parcells was allowed to take over the Jets. "This is my home," Parcells declared upon accepting the post with the New Jersey-based franchise. "There is something special about doing your job where you grew up, where you're comfortable and where you have great support." But the Jets, a team with a long history of losing, would be the turnaround specialist's greatest challenge to date. Parcells proved up to the challenge. From having the worst record in football in back-to-back seasons, 3-13 to 1-15, the Jets climbed to 9-7 in 1997, one of the biggest improvements in pro football history. The next season they were even better, winning the AFC East with a 12-4 mark and advancing to the conference championship game. Parcells' astute drafting and motivational power were largely credited with restoring a winning attitude.
The Jets' remarkable turnaround began to focus more attention on the talents of Bill Parcells. During his first 14 seasons as an NFL head coach, Parcells' teams achieved a record of 141-97-1. His clubs finished in either first or second place nine times in that span giving him a reputation as the best coach in the NFL, if not all of organized sports.