It took more than just two years of eligibility for Bill Parcells to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It took 55 minutes.
That’s how long the committee that decides on enshrinements took Saturday to debate the Canton worthiness of the man who turned around the fortunes of four franchises, won two Super Bowls and spawned a coaching tree that lasts to this day. It was one of the longest discussions in the history of the selection committee.
Ultimately, though, Parcells’ record and legacy proved enough for him to earn his bust. He and six players were voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will be inducted on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Parcells, 71, said in an NFL Network interview during the broadcast of the announcement. “It’s exhilarating. It’s such a great thrill to join such an elite group, especially the coaches who preceded me in the Hall of Fame because they’re the ones who paved the way for guys like me. I’m just grateful for those who were ahead of me who made it so great for coaches in the NFL. Hopefully maybe someday I can help some others that way.”
One of them may wind up being Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was an assistant under Parcells with the Giants.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Bill Parcells is a Hall of Fame coach,” Coughlin said. “Bill Parcells is a great football coach. He has tremendous instincts. He has the ability to say the right thing at the right time, always did. He was a guy who set a very, very high standard and then held players to it.”
Parcells was coach of the year in 1986 and 1994. In 19 seasons as a head coach, Parcells posted a regular-season record of 172-130-1 and was 11-8 in the playoffs, giving him the 10th- most wins in league history. He is the only coach to guide four different teams to the playoffs. He went to the Super Bowl with two of them.
He had the most success — two Super Bowl titles — with his first team, the Giants.
“He turned our franchise around,” team president and CEO John Mara said. “We went through a long period in the 1960s and ’70s when we were a laughingstock. When Bill took over in 1983, he survived a very difficult first year but then turned us into a perennial playoff contender and won two Super Bowls for us. He coached three other teams and everywhere he went, he had great success. I’m very happy that he will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Parcells is the 19th person affiliated with the Giants to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is the 16th modern-era head coach to make it in.
Three of his former assistant coaches — Coughlin, New England’s Bill Belichick, and New Orleans’ Sean Payton — have won a combined six Super Bowls in eight tries. The only losses were Belichick’s to Coughlin in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
Parcells, who was in his second year of eligibility, said he was more nervous waiting to hear the announcement last year than this year because he was hoping to be enshrined with his favorite player, Curtis Martin. The running back, who played for the Patriots and Jets, was a part of the Class of 2012.
“I was kind of hoping that maybe we could do it together, but things didn’t work out,” Parcells said. “That being said, I’m happy to join him now.”
Martin is glad to have him. Shortly after the announcement, Martin tweeted: “I feel just as happy as when I made it!”
Coughlin said one of Parcells’ best coaching jobs came in 1990, when the Giants lost starting quarterback Phil Simms to injury after 14 games and went on to win Super Bowl XXV.
“I remember his strength,” Coughlin said. “The way that he developed his team, we were a very strong defensive football team, we were a very good special-teams team. We ran the ball and threw play-action passes. We did not turn the ball over. Bill’s game was about not making errors, not making mistakes. It’s a long game. He believed in it. His teams could force things to happen and turn things around.”
Parcells will fly to New Orleans Sunday to take part in a pregame ceremony that will honor him and the six other new Hall of Famers: Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp.
Parcells was known as much for his personality as his coaching, and although he could converse on any number of topics, what he loved to do most was talk about football. Now he might have the chance to do that forever.
Coughlin recalled how, in John Madden’s Hall of Fame induction speech, he imagined that at night, the busts in Canton come alive and talk about the game.
“I’m telling you, Parcells will hold his own in every one of those conversations,” Coughlin said. “I guarantee that.” ___