If the football writers get it right and do their job and if the moons are properly aligned, Bill Parcells should have something to celebrate in New Orleans this weekend. The Big Tuna as he has been called in many circles, should finally get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For the coach with two Super Bow wins with the Giants and one loss with the Patriots, for the man who spawned Bill Belichick and who had stints not only with the Patriots, but the Jets, the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolpins it is time to put an exclamation point on an NFL career which began as a 7th round NFL draft pick by the Lions out of Wichita State in 1964 and who started his coaching career the same year as the linebackers coach for the Hastings Broncos.
Parcells had stops at Army, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Texas Tech and the Air Force Academy before he turned pro as the Giants defensive coordinator in 1979.
But before that, there was the kid from Jersey who was born in Englewood, grew up in Hasbrouck Heights and went to River Dell High School in Oradell, all within a 10 mile radius of each other in Bergen County.
Even then, Parcells had a lot of Jersey guy in him. He didn’t like the name of Duane given him by his parents Ida and Charles. So he chose the name Bill. It stuck
It sill took Parcells who was a three-sport star at River Dell., some time to find his stride. He enrolled at Colgate out of high school and turned down an offer from the Philadelphia Phillies because his father thought that there were better career opportunities than sports offered at the time.
Parcells emerged as a decent football player at Wichita, but not at the NFL level and his career ws over before he played a regular season game with the Lions.
His career in coaching and in the NFL began and spanned 46 seasons before he ended his tenure with the Dolphins front office in 2010.
My favorite memory of Parcells was in training camp with the Patriots when they were still spending their summers in Smithfield at Bryant College (now University). It was a quiet day and the Tuna didn’t have much news, but he could always entertain.
“Tough day today, fellas,” said Parcells to the group of reporters looking for some Tuna talk. “Tough day. They’re putting No. 7 in the ground.”
No. 7 was Hall of Fame Yankee center fielder Mickey Mantle who had just died. For any kid growing up in north Jersey in the 50′s or 60′s as Parcells had, the Mick was the Mick. And for 30 minutes Parcells told story after story about Mantle and the Yankess and being a Yankee fan, growing up in Jersey.
And then he was done. “Got to go to work, felllas ” said Parcells who then disappeared back into the Patriot coaching offices.
Let’s hope that by the end of Saturday, being a Hall of Famer is included in Parcells profile, who is our Jersey Guy of the Week.