BOSTON (CBS) — Does Bill Parcells belong in the Patriots Hall of Fame? It’s a debate that has raged on among Patriots fans since the former head coach was first up for enshrinement in 2011.
Parcells is one of the greatest football coaches of all time, and though he only spent four years in New England, he helped lay the groundwork for what the franchise has become. Parcells took over a 2-14 Patriots team in 1993 and just four years later, “The Tuna” had the team playing for a championship.
But he also parlayed that trip to the Super Bowl into a new job with the New York Jets — which he was negotiating before the team had even squared off with the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. He didn’t even fly back with the team after their loss to the Packers, and took plenty of shots at Kraft following his departure. The ending to Parcells’ time in New England — and how he left — is why most don’t think he should be in the team’s Hall of Fame, despite the big impact he had on the franchise in such a short time.
WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton is in the camp that believes Parcells should get a red jacket — and it’s not because Tuna gave Burton one of the best quotes in all of sports history. Burton was joined by Patriots writers Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston and Bill Burt of The Eagle Tribune on Sunday night’s Sports Final, and they both agree with Burton: Parcells belongs to be in the Hall at Patriot Place.
“Look, Bill Parcells left New England in a rough way. We all understand that. But you could argue several other Patriots have left in a hard way and have been welcomed back into the family,” said Burt. “I will argue that this dynasty we’ve been on for 20 years, especially the birth — there are several places you could go. The Snow Bowl, Bill Belichick being here in 1996, or go back to Kraft buying the team in 1994. I think it started the year before, January of 1993, when Bill Parcells was hired.
“This franchise was a mess, on and off the field. The first day I’ve looked at the franchise differently was the press conference when Bill Parcells was hired,” said Burt. “I said to myself ‘the Patriots are legitimate.’ It was a rocky couple of years, but the beginning of what we just experienced started with Bill Parcells. It was a mindset; Discipline, taking care of the quarterback, situational football — the things we hear with Belichick, it started then.
“Bill Belichick is the greatest coach that ever lived. But in terms of what this guy meant to this franchise, [Parcells] is a Patriots Hall of Famer,” concluded Burt. “I think it would be special. I just think it would be right. This would be the cherry on top of his career. I think it would be one of the happiest days of his life, if he went into the Patriots Hall of Fame.”
Parcells is going up against Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel, both of whom won a trio of Super Bowls in New England. With even more dynasty players coming up for enshrinement in the coming years, both Burt and Reiss think this could be Parcell’s last shot at enshrinement.
“This is his last chance and it doesn’t look great,” said Burt. “We wouldn’t be here today having this discussion if Parcells was never in New England.”
“It’s more of a ‘thank you’ for bringing the Patriots back to relevance,” added Reiss. “I’m not optimistic based on the history.
“The problem is, look who he is going against: Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel, five-time and four-time finalists between them. You can only vote one in, and that’s the challenge. They all belong in, in my opinion,” said Reiss. “To me, it’s about feeling. The Patriots Hall of Fame is going to be viewed differently by different people. Some will say there is no way Parcells should be in based on what he did to this franchise, and I respect that viewpoint. I see it differently; I’m more forgiving. I was a fan back then, and when he came to the Patriots, that team came alive. What it means to me, that person who brought that feeling, should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Fans can vote for this year’s Hall of Fame class online through May 8.