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A Hard Man for a Hard Job
December 14, 1998
The New York Jets' Bill Parcells, resurrector of three NFL teams, is nasty, stubborn and domineering. Those are only some of the reasons he may be the best coach in the league
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December 14, 1998

A Hard Man For A Hard Job

The New York Jets' Bill Parcells, resurrector of three NFL teams, is nasty, stubborn and domineering. Those are only some of the reasons he may be the best coach in the league

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Bill Belichick, Ass't. Head Coach and Secondary, 2nd Season with Jets, 24th Season in NFL, 13th season with Bill Parcells.

Romeo Crennel, Defensive Line, 2nd Season with Jets, 18th in NFL, 19th with Bill Parcells.

Al Groh, Linebackers Coach, 2nd Season with Jets, 11th Season in NFL, 12th season with Bill Parcells.

And so on.

A big misconception about Parcells is that he has his hand in every aspect of the football operation. More than many coaches, he delegates. Carthon says that he deals very little with Parcells on offensive matters and talks mostly to coordinator Charlie Weis, who has been with Parcells for six seasons. Parcells is secure about hiring talented coaches who will implement his system because they know who's in charge. Palace coups are unthinkable.

The assistants toe the party line and rarely, if ever, talk publicly about matters other than football. They are well paid and have on their resumes an association with a winning team. But Parcells is hard on them, and they sometimes have to swallow their pride to work for him. Hostetler, to whom Parcells offered the job of Jets quarterbacks coach before the 1997 season (he decided to stay active and is with the Washington Redskins), pondered whether he would accept a similar offer from him down the road. "It was one of the most flattering calls I ever got when he asked me to join his staff," says Hostetler, "because he had never given the slightest indication I had earned his respect when I was with the Giants. But I honestly don't know if I could work with him. He makes a lot of demands, and I don't know whether I could make that commitment." But if you do make the commitment, then you are a Parcells guy, probably for life.

There's something to be said for Parcells's bluntness. Players may not enjoy hearing it, but they don't like the double-talk they get on many other teams either. "When the man says your time is running out," says Cox, "then your time is running out."

There's a clarity about being on a Parcells team that a player can appreciate. You have to please the coach, not the owner or the general manager or the fans. If you do, you stick. If you don't, lace up your walking shoes. "More than other athletes, football players want to be led," says Simms, "and Bill Parcells leads. That's why players respond to him." If that sounds like old-school, Giants-of-the-1980s nonsense, well, Keyshawn Johnson says the same thing. "I don't have a problem with taking orders," says Johnson, "and I don't think any other real players do. We just want to take the right orders from the right person, and that's what you get from Bill Parcells."

Still, one wonders, Is there a way to achieve Parcellsian results without some of the extraneous nastiness, the relentless controlling dynamic? Morris considers the question, says yes and names a former Redskins coach who won three Super Bowls. "Joe Gibbs did it," says Morris. "He is a wonderful man and a wonderful coach. You can be both."

Burt considers the question and spits a quick no. "Why should he? It works for Parcells. It's the only way it could work."

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