The Exaggerated Myth of Bill Parcells in New England

Let me begin this post by saying that I LOVED having Bill Parcells as coach of the New England Patriots, and wished he had stayed on. When he was hired by the Patriots, I was ecstatic, having found myself rooting for the Giants during several 1980’s postseasons – mostly because of Parcells and LT.

To that point, Chuck Fairbanks had been the best coach in franchise history, and to get another top coach into a franchise that was struggling with possible relocation at the time was a major coup.

There is no denying that Parcells, along with Robert Kraft and yes, Drew Bledsoe, led a major turnaround in the situation here in New England. When Parcells left, I was thoroughly dismayed.

The circumstances under which Parcells left New England has been documented ad nauseum, and really should’ve created much more acrimony towards the coach than it really did. He was negotiating with a division rival during Super Bowl week in which the Patriots were participating. It was betrayal of outrageous proportions, no matter what the personal situation between he and Bob Kraft was at the time.

Yet, the undeniable charisma of Parcells (along with the Patriots steady decline under Pete Carroll) led some to keep their loyalties to Parcells, and to pardon him for his actions. Particularly in the media was this case, with Parcells toadies breathlessly praising him at every opportunity.

After the Pete Carroll era flamed out, longtime Parcells assistant Bill Belichick was hired – under perhaps just as big a cloud of controversy as Parcells’ departure from New England – and after a season of adjustment, proceeded to win three Super Bowls in four seasons.

Belichick possesses none of  the innate charisma of Parcells. This has turned off many in the media, and some of the fan base as well, who wistfully pine for the entertaining press conferences of Parcells. To these, Parcells is the ultimate football guy, and no one can compare.

The people still exist, and attempt to give credit for the Super Bowl victories to Parcells, claiming that those titles were won with “his” players.

A caller to Felger and Mazz at the start of yesterday’s show was one of these people, claiming forcefully that “70% of the defense on those Super Bowl titles were Parcells’ draft picks and players.” The hosts, naturally did not disagree, though Felger tempered it somewhat by saying that by the ’04 team, “it was more 50/50 Parcells and Belichick guys.”

Complete Myth.

Let’s take a look. Now remember, the caller and host was only talking about defense here. First of all, five* Parcells draft picks on defense ever won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

1994 Willie McGinest (3 titles)
1995 Ty Law (3 titles, though injured for 2004 postseason)
1995 Ted Johnson (3 titles)
1996 Lawyer Milloy (1 title, gone after 2002 season)
1996 Teddy Bruschi (3 titles)

*Marty Moore was a 1994 Parcells pick (Mr Irrelevant) played 3 games with 2001 Patriots, assisting on two tackles.

Granted, those are five outstanding players in Patriots history. You might eventually see all five in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame. You could call those guys the core of your defense.

What about the rest of the squad though? What guys on defense had played for Parcells previously?

2001

Bryan Cox – played two seasons under Parcells with the Jets. Played 11 games for 2001 Patriots. (1 title)

Roman Phifer – played one season under Parcells with Jets. Played four seasons under Belichick with Patriots. (3 titles)

Otis Smith – played four seasons under Parcells, with NE and Jets. Three seasons with Belichick with Patriots. (1 title)

Bobby Hamilton – played three seasons under Parcells with Jets, four seasons with Belichick with Patriots. (2 titles)

Anthony Pleasant – played five seasons under Belichick in Cleveland, two with Parcells with Jets and three with Belichick with Patriots (2 titles)

2003

Phifer
Hamilton
Pleasant
Rick Lyle – played three seasons under Parcells with Jets, two with Belichick with Patriots. (8 games in 2003)

2004

Phifer

That’s it.

Am I seeing 70% of the defense? Am I even seeing 50/50?

Furthermore, those five core guys are the only players drafted by Bill Parcells to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots, period. He didn’t draft any of the other guys who played for both him and Belichick.

Furthermore, what did Parcells say in his farewell press conference with New England? A complaint about not being able to “shop for the groceries?” Indicating that he didn’t have control over the draft picks and personnel? So are the “Parcells guys” listed above, really “Parcells guys?”

Remember, the 1996 draft was the one that yielded Milloy and Bruschi, but that was also the one that triggered the whole exodus of Parcells from New England because he was overruled in the draft when the Patriots selected Terry Glenn in the first round.

Check this quote from Charley Armey in a Michael Madden column from 2000:

Parcells, said Armey, “didn’t make any selections at all” after the infamous Terry Glenn episode on draft day in 1996. And, by then, Armey had been relegated to being “like any other scout. I wasn’t running the draft.”

In that column, Armey also states that Parcells never had full authority over the draft to begin with:

See, people think Bill had the final authority to make the picks with the Patriots but that was never in his contract. Not when I was there, and I left after he did.

The whole argument of Parcells being the architect of those Super Bowl champions is just not true.

Like I said in the opener, I loved having Bill Parcells coach the New England Patriots, but lets ease up on the legend that he “built” the defenses that won three Super Bowls here in New England. If you want to attack Belichick for not being able to build a championship defense since 2004, that’s one thing, but to give all the credit to Parcells for the three wins, or even claiming that 70% or 50% were “Parcells guys” is preposterous.

  • sjc6224

    Excellent column. I seem to remember Parcells leaving the draft room in 1996 after the Glenn pick. He might have been on board with Milloy and Bruschi in the predraft analysis but we don’t know. Also, his best year in NE was with Belichick as an assistant. I don’t take away anything Parcells did in NE, but they did go 6-10 in 1995 and started 3-6 in 1994. It was a struggle but by 2001, there was little of Parcells left on the team. Now he and Belichick have a similar eye for players like Hamilton, Pleasant, Cox, etc, and have similar eye for assistant coaches as many served under both, but to make the claims that you said were made on 98.5 yesterday is just mindless bashing.

  • brian

    If anything, F&M’s comments just speak to their laziness where they can’t let facts get in the way of a good argument. Easier to rant and rave than to actually do their homework to back their points up. Then again, you could probably say the same about quite a few others in the Boston media. Great work as usual Bruce!

  • HomerGreenz

    The same phony argument has been made that Dan Duquette was the architect of the 2004 Red Sox team. Meanwhile it was Theo Epstein and co. that brought in Schilling, built the bullpen up from nothing, signed most of the players in the everyday lineup and hired the manager…

    These people are delusional contrarians just for the sake of being contrarians.

    • bowltr

      So true Homer. 16 of the 25 players on the WS roster were ACQUIRED by Theo but when this is actually stated as FACT the argument then changed too………..Well DD brought in Pedro, Manny and Damon. To which I say Theo brought in Foulke Schill and Papi. In other words people don’t like facts they just like arguments.

  • bsmfan

    Sounds like I missed 0 on the Brady injury while the internet impoded.

    @FO_ASchatz BREAKING NEWS: ESPN is reporting that WEEI is reporting that 98.5 is reporting that nobody has any idea how badly Tom Brady is hurt.

  • DryHeave

    all those, “Brady knee jerk reactions”…. if that’s not an example of how today’s instant media (i.e. twitter) can be ridiculous I don’t know what is.

    • bsmfan

      Good example: I flipped over to Sports Tonight and they had a segment, “Will the Pats stop doing joint practices” or something like that. Because of one injury that @EdWerderESPN is saying is nothing but a bone bruise? Nobody wants Brady or any other Pat injured but, seriously? You read how some of the guys who tore ACLs did it in shorts and t-shirts running off the line in 7-on-7. We gonna stop 7-on-7 now, as well?

    • bsmfan

      The Onion always finds a way to produce some great headlines:

      “Massachusetts Evacuated To Prevent Any Contact With Tom Brady’s Knee”

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/massachusetts-evacuated-to-prevent-any-contact-wit,33506/

  • bsmfan
  • HighWireNickEsasky

    I love when local hosts they bring in national football experts and try to downplay Belichick’s success. They expect these guys to continue the echo chamber but most of the time the national experts will make them look foolish…with the facts. Mutt and Munansky tried doing that a while back with Chris Mortensen on the Patriots’ drafting and Mort (politely) pointed out that every team has its share of misfires, but the Patriots’ drafting has been among the best in the NFL for the past decade.

    I recently moved to VT and the only local sports radio option is ESPN out of Burlington. It is mostly national ESPN programs with a couple of local guys, Chris and Rich, in the afternoons. Chris is Chris Villiani, who I guess used to be an EEI flashboy. But both this local show and the national shows (M&M, Cowherd, SVP&Russillo) all have on much, much guests than EEI or 98.5 do (and not just ESPN experts). This is mainly because they would rather hear from people who actually know what they are taking about than push some stupid,negative narrative.