Bill Parcells, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles and mentored coaches such as Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick, was unfairly left out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012, former players said.
The 70-year-old Parcells, the only coach to lead four different National Football League franchises to the playoffs, wasn’t among the six candidates elected to the Hall of Fame on Feb. 4. The voting came one day before current Giants coach Coughlin won his second Super Bowl title, helping his own case for entrance to the Canton, Ohio-based Hall and setting the stage for today’s victory parade up the “Canyon of Heroes” in lower Manhattan.
Phil Simms, the former Giants quarterback who was the Most Valuable Player in the team’s 1987 Super Bowl victory against the Denver Broncos, said Parcells “absolutely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
“I thought he was a shoo-in,” Simms, 57, said yesterday in a radio interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa in New York. “There were a lot of people in the NFL very surprised too.”
The Giants’ 21-17 victory against the New England Patriots two days ago was the second Super Bowl victory for Coughlin, who joins Parcells as the only coaches to win a pair of NFL titles in New York. Coughlin’s latest victory, four years after he led the Giants to a 17-14 win against the Patriots in the 2008 championship game, should ensure his future place in the Hall of Fame, according to team co-owner John Mara.
“With all the adversity he’s been through, to continue to work so hard, I think he just earned a spot in Canton,” Mara said in an interview on the field following the win.
Coughlin, at 65 the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl, was a wide receivers coach under Parcells from 1988-1990. Parcells, who was 172-130 in 22 NFL seasons, also has mentored Super Bowl-winning coaches including Belichick, who has three NFL titles with the Patriots, and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints, who has one. Parcells last coached in 2006 with the Dallas Cowboys.
Each year’s Hall of Fame class is decided by a group of 44 media members from around the country, and each candidate needs 80 percent approval for election. Simms, whose own candidacy has been debated, said Parcells’s brusqueness may have unfairly played a role in the coach’s lack of votes.
“Now we’re talking about personality?” Simms said. “It’s pitiful.”
Joe Horrigan, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the Parcells decision and the efficacy of the voting process. Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, a member of the committee, wrote today that the panel discussed Parcells for 57 minutes, longer than any other candidate.
Parcells took over as coach of the Giants in 1983, winning Super Bowl titles following the 1986 and 1990 seasons. He retired following the second title due to health reasons, and returned to coaching in 1993 with the Patriots, leading them to the Super Bowl following the 1996 season where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Parcells left New England for the New York Jets in 1997 and retired again three years later, after going 29-19 with a conference championship appearance. He was eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2001 and 2002, before returning to the NFL as coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2003. He retired for the third time in 2006 after two playoff losses and no postseason victories with the Cowboys.
Former Jets running back Curtis Martin, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, said he would have given up his candidacy if it meant Parcells got in.
“There’s God and then there’s Parcells, as far as the meaning they’ve had on my career,” Martin said in a conference call after the voting. “He was almost like a father figure.”
-- With assistance from Amanda L. Gordon in Indianapolis. Editors: Larry Siddons, Jay Beberman