On Jan. 2, Bill Parcells took over the head coaching reigns of the Dallas Cowboys, marking the union of one of the NFL's most visible and successful franchises with one of the most prominent coaching names in the history of the league. Jerry Jones's appointment of Parcells to the Cowboys top job will give the sixth head coach in Dallas history the opportunity to guide a fourth different team to the NFL playoffs and a third club to the Super Bowl.
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All three of the previous NFL teams that have been coached by Parcells can attest to his ability to develop a winner and maintain success. His results with the New York Giants, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets were dramatic and provided a winning foundation for the years that followed his departure.
During his 15 seasons as an NFL head coach, Parcells has posted a record of 149-106-1, including victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV with the New York Giants and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI with the New England Patriots. Parcells returns to the NFL as the third winningest active coach, trailing only Dan Reeves (197 in 22 years) and Marty Schottenheimer (166 in 17 years). His 149 career wins place him 13th overall in NFL history.
Parcells has guided his teams to 10 winning seasons, eight playoff berths and an 11-6 postseason record. Parcells-led teams have finished in either first or second place in their division nine times. He is one of only four coaches (Reeves, Don Shula, and Dick Vermeil) in NFL history to have led two separate teams to the Super Bowl. Parcells, Reeves and Chuck Knox are the only coaches to have directed three different teams to the playoffs. Parcells and Denver's Mike Shanahan are the only active coaches to have claimed two Super Bowl titles, and he is one of just six active coaches to have ever won a Super Bowl title.
Parcells' success has taken place in both the pre- and post free agency days in the NFL. His Giants teams were constructed in the days before the NFL's current salary cap and free agency systems were in place. His success with the Patriots occurred in the first days of free agency as the league was implementing the new system.
As the head coach and chief football operations officer of the Jets, he took full advantage of the ?new? NFL by making several crucial personnel moves: signing restricted free agent running back and perennial 1,000-yard rusher Curtis Martin away from New England; swaying one of the top young centers in the NFL, Kevin Mawae, to join his efforts; and by signing veteran quarterback and 1998 team MVP Vinny Testaverde shortly after he had been released by Baltimore.
The improvement has been dramatic with each challenge in Parcells's coaching career. His last stop with the Jets saw him take over a club with the worst record in football - with back-to-back seasons of 3-13 and 1-15 - and lead them to a 9-7 record in his first year, showing one of the biggest improvements in pro football history. The following season, his Jets went 12-4 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game.
After taking over the Jets in February of 1997, Parcells guided the team to a 29-19 regular season record in his three seasons. The 29 victories accounted for the fifth most wins in the NFL over that period of time. Additionally, the team won the AFC East title in 1998 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
Under Parcells, the Jets went from 1-15 in 1996 to 9-7 in 1997 to 12-4 and the AFC Championship Game in 1998 - an improvement of 20 victories. It marked the first time in NFL history that a team had won one game and within two years was playing for a conference championship. The only other team that won one game in a season and then was able to make the playoffs in a two-year period was Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, who were 1-10-1 in 1958 and rose to 7-5 in 1959 and to the NFL West title at 8-4 in 1960.
Under Parcells in 1997, the Jets came within one game of the playoffs at 9-7 and within one game of equaling their victory total for the past three seasons (6-10 in 1994, 3-13 in ?95 and 1-15 in ?96). The improvement of eight games tied for the second best all-time turnaround, just behind the 1929 New York Giants and the 1963 Oakland Raiders, both of whom improved by nine wins over their preceding year. The turnaround to a plus eight was also accomplished by Ted Marchibroda, who guided the 1992 Indianapolis squad to 9-7 after a 1-15 season in 1991.
In 1983 Parcells assumed the head coaching reins of a Giants team that had just one winning season in its previous 10 years. Parcells took over a 4-5 team from the strike-shortened 1982 season and, following a 3-12-1 campaign in 1983, enjoyed a remarkable run of 9, 10, 14, 10, 12, and 13-win seasons between 1984 and 1990. In 1984 and 1985, the Giants reached the postseason as a wild card team. Each time, the eventual Super Bowl champions eliminated the vastly improved Giants from the playoffs. In 1986, however, the Giants went 14-2 and defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. After a two-year absence, the Giants returned to the playoffs in 1989 as NFC Eastern Division champions. In 1990, the team captured its second world championshp with a dramatic 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. During his time with the Giants, the club won two Super Bowls, three division titles and had only one losing season. For his accomplishments, Parcells was honored with NFL Coach of the Year honors in both 1986 and 1989.
Citing health concerns, Parcells spent two years (1991-92) as a football analyst for NBC Sports, serving in roles ranging from studio host to color commentator. He returned to coaching in 1993, taking over the struggling New England Patriots who posted a 2-14 record in 1992 and were on a four-year losing skid. Within two years, Parcells coached the team to a 10-6 mark and its first playoff game in eight years. Then, in his fourth year, the Patriots went 11-5, good for first in the AFC East and a playoff bye, setting up two home playoff wins that put them into Super Bowl XXXI against Green Bay.
After a collegiate playing career that included stops at Colgate and Wichita State University, he began his coaching career in 1964 as a defensive assistant at Hastings College (in Nebraska). He returned to Wichita State in 1965 as a defensive line coach before moving east to coach at Army. After four years at West Point (1966-69), Parcells left for stints at Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Texas Tech. His first head coaching position came at the Air Force Academy in 1978. He then moved on to the NFL, as an assistant on Ray Perkins' staff with the Giants in 1979. After one season, he joined the Patriots (1980) as the linebackers' coach on Ron Erhardt's staff for one year before returning to the Giants as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, the position he held until taking over as head coach in 1983.
Parcells, 61, is an Oradell, N.J. native. He was a member of the first graduating class at River Dell High School in Oradell in 1959, where he starred in basketball, football and baseball.
Born Aug. 22, 1941 in Englewood, N.J., Parcells has three daughters - Suzy, Jill and Dallas.
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