Unless the process for induction is tweaked, Bill Parcells will be pushing up daisies before he gets into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Is that a travesty, a tragedy, a miscarriage of justice, a stain on the Family Kraft, the franchise and the six-state region?
Is it “ridiculous” and “embarrassing” as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy alleged this week in his semi-annual footstomp over Parcells’ omission?
Eh. I don’t know.
It’s not ideal. Bill Parcells belongs in the Patriots Hall of Fame.
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Despite his 32-32 overall record as Patriots head coach. Despite his selfish dalliance with the Jets when he was supposed to be preparing the Patriots for Super Bowl 31. Despite his self-serving revisions of history. Despite the fact he committed himself — body, brain and soul — to actively undercutting the Patriots at every turn from January 1997 through 2000, he still belongs in.
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But there are complications for the soon-to-be-79-year-old.
He is — for the fourth-time — a finalist for induction. A 27-member committee voted earlier this month and Parcells, Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel ended up with the most points (five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote, one for a third-place vote).
Parcells outpointed Logan Mankins, Wes Welker, Randy Moss and an ever-expanding of fairly deserving candidates to get into the final three. The vote is in the hands of the fans until May 8. Then the leading vote-getter will be unveiled and that individual will be the lone inductee.
The Tuna is cooked. And he forever will be if his fate is in the hands of the fans.
Because fans don’t really care how great Parcells’ press conferences were. They don’t care how simple he made life for the Boston Media Cartel of the 90's and 00's who could simply hit “RECORD” let it run, transcribe it back, ship it to the desk and be on their way to EEI before traffic started.
Fans actually took to heart all that was said and written about Parcells by that same Boston media when he was extracting himself from the Patriots and going to the Jets.
They remember Parcells signing Curtis Martin to a poison-pill contract in 1998 and trying to block the return of Bill Belichick to the Patriots through a series of dubious machinations.
They understand that without Terry Glenn — the player Parcells was strong-armed into drafting in 1996 in a move that led to Parcells quitting the team — the Patriots wouldn’t have been in Super Bowl XXXI.
They understand that if the Jacksonville Jaguars hadn’t done the Patriots’ dirty work and beaten the Broncos in 1996, the Patriots weren’t going to be in that Super Bowl either.
And they don’t forgive Parcells for hunkering down in his New Orleans hotel room and negotiating his exit to the Jets with that Super Bowl just days away.
Hell, eight years later, it was clear that Belichick still hadn’t forgiven Parcells for that.
This, from Belichick in Michael Holley’s "Patriot Reign":
Yeah, I'd say it was a little bit of a distraction all the way around. I can tell you first-hand; there was a lot of stuff going on prior to the game. I mean, him talking to other teams. He was trying to make up his mind about what he was going to do. Which, honestly, I felt [was] totally inappropriate. How many chances do you get to play for the Super Bowl? Tell them to get back to you in a couple of days. I'm not saying it was disrespectful to me, but it was in terms of the overall commitment to the team.
It’s ironic that among those most offended by Parcells’ omission are media people whose jobs Parcells made easy for a predictably short period of time before wanderlust and ego drove him to head for the hills.
Tuna gave great sound.
Not coincidentally, those same people are forever offended by Belichick, who makes their jobs hard. And despite every blow dart shot into Belichick’s neck from behind a keyboard for being a snorting, lip-smacking mass of shrugs and eyerolls, he enters his 21st year as head coach and his reign has been a golden goose for the media.
But that’s the appeal of Parcells. His legacy is less about what he actually accomplished and more about what he represented.
Hired in 1993 by a lame-duck owner after a 2-14 season, Parcells helped the Patriots out of the gutter, cleaned them up, gave them warm soup and clean clothes. The tail end of 1993 and the entire 1994 season felt like this: “Look at us! We’re having fun watching the Patriots again! What did we do to deserve this?!?!?!”
Parcells — in four seasons — stocked the franchise with really good players and either instilled in them or tapped into an edge that made them very much a band of brothers.
Drew Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Curtis Martin, Ted Johnson, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Chris Slade, Dave Wohlabaugh and yeah, Terry Glenn. Those were the best Patriots Parcells drafted. Five are in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Two are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And Parcells, as you know, is in Canton too.
Personally, I don’t find it embarrassing that Parcells is enshrined there and not in Foxboro. He’s in Canton for what he did with the Giants, primarily. He further deserves to be there for the renovation projects he executed with the Jets, Giants and Cowboys. He’s also there because of the Tuna Cult of Personality he cultivated.
Big personality. Own the room. An towel-snapping, back-slapping, own-the-room, loudest-voice-wins kind of guy who was happy to show a little leg to other franchises while still under contract just to squeeze more cash or for the thrill of it.
The thing is, with the Patriots, it became personal.
Parcells has all but apologized.
"I regret leaving New England. Had we done things differently ... " Parcells said in 2013. "I had a good young team there. I hated to leave that team, because I knew what we could do.
I was absolutely too headstrong. And (Robert Kraft) might have been a little headstrong, too. I think both Kraft and myself, retrospectively, would have done things a little differently.
As for Kraft, who’s just two months older than Parcells, he’s in the hatchet-burying portion of the program at this point. He’s never going to forget. But he’s long since forgiven.
Kraft’s fanbase? They aren’t going to forget. And while a lot of them may forgive, if given the chance to vote for a coach who was here for four seasons 25 years ago or a player who won three Super Bowls 15 years ago, they’ll take the player.
My guess is that — on May 8 — we learn the voting results and Seymour gets in. And next year it’s Vrabel or Mankins or Welker and then it’s one of those guys or Vince Wilfork and on we go.
Bill Parcells isn’t getting into the Patriots Hall of Fame without ownerly intervention.
And I think the owner ought to go ahead and do it.