Leaving on a Jet plane
Parcells steps aside, Belichick takes over Jets
Posted: Tuesday January 04, 2000 02:46 AM
Bill Parcells had a 29-19 record in three seasons with the Jets. AP
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The man in the glass told Bill Parcells it's time. His illustrious NFL coaching career is over.
Citing an inability to totally devote himself to what has become a 365-day job, Parcells resigned Monday as coach of the New York Jets, handing the reins to defensive coordinator Bill Belichick. Parcells will remain as the team's chief operating officer, but will have no hand in the coaching.
"Bill's not coming back," Parcells said. "You can write that on your chalkboard."
Parcells, 58, told his players, for whom he admitted he had strong feelings, that he could no longer make the kind of commitment the job requires. He also read them a poem, "The Man in the Glass," which concludes: "You may fool the whole world down the pathway of Life
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the Man in the Glass."
Parcells turned around three franchises, leading the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles and the New England Patriots to an AFC crown before joining the Jets in 1997. He took the Jets from laughingstock to contender, going 9-7, 12-4 (losing in the conference title game) and 8-8. This season, in which the Jets were ravaged by injuries and lost several close games early, included some of his best work.
New York won seven of its last nine games and won five times against playoff teams, including the last four games.
He also found a quarterback in Ray Lucas after Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles' tendon in the opener. After the inexperienced Lucas took over for the ineffective Rick Mirer for good in Game 9, the Jets went 5-2.
"I'm grateful to the players who hung in there for me this season," Parcells said. "It was a difficult thing for a while this year. If I was burned out, this season halfway through would've been a strong indication I was. I coached hard right to the end. I think the players would tell you that.
"Ray Lucas ... everybody started to feed off him. He gave us the energy. The players would feed off him, the coaches."
Lucas, a special-teamer for most of his first two-plus NFL seasons, not only finished third in AFC passing statistics, but he erased concerns about the position for next season if Testaverde has any setbacks.
"At least I won't have to hear him tear me up every day," Lucas said, laughing. "It's tough. When he finished talking, he walked out and we were all sitting there like ...
"I think he made a decision that he couldn't go 365 days. Maybe it was his health, or he is not able to put too much devotion to the job.
"My opinion was I would be shocked, but it was heartfelt when he told us. I know it hurts him a lot."
Parcells said he would have been more inclined to return if the team had not turned things around. But he likes the direction the Jets have taken, making the timing of his resignation easier.
"I think one of the things I have always tried to pride myself on is that if I did go someplace, when I left there that it was a better operation," he said. "I feel that way now."
He claimed the pending sale of the team had no impact on his decision. Nor did the fact the Patriots were interested in Belichick to replace Pete Carroll, who was fired as coach Monday.
But it seemed clear the entire process was speeded up significantly when New England's interest became known. The Patriots contacted the Jets on Monday morning about Belichick's availability and were told he had been elevated to replace Parcells.
Parcells said he has no concerns about turning over coaching duties to Belichick, who was 37-45 in five seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but is best known for his creative defenses. Belichick was the coordinator for all of Parcells' Super Bowl teams and worked 14 years under Parcells.
Belichick was not available Monday, saying in a statement, "My intention was to allow this to be coach Parcells' day exclusively."
"Bill will be making the football decisions," said Parcells, whose career coaching record is 149-106-1. "We have a very long-standing business relationship. He is extremely bright, well-organized and a tireless worker. He gained a wealth of experience from Cleveland.
"He's been on the job and seen the evolution of this for three years. He's been a part of it and has a good chance to succeed."
Belichick is following a tough act, a man termed "a Hall of Fame coach" by running back Curtis Martin.
"I would like it if I have a legacy that the players who played for me thought I tried to win every game," Parcells said. "I'd be proud if that is my legacy."
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