With Parcells, it's the same old song, different versePosted: Saturday January 19, 2002 3:30 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- In 1979, Bill Parcells was hired as the New York Giants' linebackers coach. Shortly afterward, he told head coach Ray Perkins he couldn't take the job for personal reasons.
Yes, Parcells has been backing in and out of jobs for two decades. He did it again Friday night, when he decided not to take the Tampa Bay coaching job he was supposed to have agreed to even before Tony Dungy was fired.
Parcells backed out on Tampa Bay once before -- a decade ago, when Hugh Culverhouse, then the team's owner, said: "I feel like I've been jilted at the altar."
That's how it goes with Parcells, who is often is as uncertain about personal decisions as he is certain about what his coaching methods are.
The former has led him to hem and haw for decades, the latter has made him a Hall of Fame finalist for the second straight year. That Hall of Fame candidacy appears to be one reason Parcells decided not to coach again -- he was turned down last year in part because it was thought he might return.
In 1979, the reasons he backed out on the Giants were personal -- Parcells' family wanted to stay in Colorado, where he was head coach at the Air Force Academy.
But in 1980, he took his first NFL job as an assistant in New England. A year later, he was hired as the Giants' defensive coordinator after Perkins persuaded general manager George Young to break a personal rule. "I never hire a man who quits on me," Young always said.
By 1983, Parcells was the Giants' head coach after Perkins left to succeed Bear Bryant at Alabama. His first season with the Giants was a disaster -- his parents died, as did a close friend and assistant coach, and the team went 3-12-1.
But the next year, Parcells got the Giants to the playoffs, and two years later he won his first Super Bowl.
Still, as the Giants prepared for that game, Parcells' agent, Robert Fraley, was negotiating a deal with Atlanta that would have made him the Falcons' head coach and general manager. Fraley, who died in the 1999 plane crash that killed golfer Payne Stewart, was always there, looking for the next big opening, the next big payoff.
It never happened in 1987, because commissioner Pete Rozelle vetoed it.
Four years later, the Giants won another Super Bowl. Parcells stayed on through the 1991 draft, then suddenly resigned in late April, leaving a huge void. With staffs already assembled, Young was left to make running backs coach Ray Handley the team's new head coach.
One reason Parcells left was his health -- at 49, he already was having heart problems that would lead to several operations. Another was a rift with Young -- Parcells wanted more power and still believed that Young had talked to Howard Schnellenberger about the Giants' job after Parcells' first season as head coach.
After leaving the Giants, Parcells went to NBC and was usually the first person called by anyone with a coaching vacancy.
Thus the Culverhouse flirtation and several others, before Parcells went to New England in 1993. By 1996, he had the Patriots in the Super Bowl, where they lost to Green Bay.
Parcells overshadowed the game.
Even before the Patriots got to New Orleans, the self-styled "Jersey guy" was ready to quit and go to back to New York as the Jets' head coach and general manager. He denied it during Super Bowl week, even engaging in a "we love each other" news conference with owner Robert Kraft.
But he didn't fly back to New England on the team plane and then resigned. After protracted negotiations that required the intervention of commissioner Paul Tagliabue, he was allowed to go -- for four draft choices.
He coached the Jets for three years, getting them to the AFC title game in his second. He stayed on one more year as general manager before "retiring" again.
His coaching career: two Super Bowl wins with his first team; a Super Bowl loss with his second; an AFC title game with his third.
He sat out this season as rumors circulated in central Florida, where Parcells owns a home, that he would replace Dungy. Just over a week ago, it was reported that he already had agreed to a five-year deal, although the team said it had no contact with Parcells until this week.
On Friday, the NFL said it had warned both the team and Parcells against tampering after he was said to be negotiating with assistant coaches on other teams.
Friday night it was all over -- for now. That was a day after he was named a Hall of Fame finalist for the second consecutive year.
"I hope," he said, "this convinces everybody I'm not coming back."
It sounded like a plea to the Hall of Fame committee.
With Parcells, you never know.
Even he never knows.