On This Date in Sports February 11, 1997: Bill Parcells Saga

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Bill Parcells becomes coach of the New York Jets after the NFL brokered a deal with the New England Patriots. Parcells replaces Richie Kotite, who had a 4-28 record in two seasons with the Jets. He had turned around a Patriots in four seasons, taking them to Super Bowl XXXI. However, as the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers, Bill Parcells was in discussions with the Jets. The Patriots would receive four draft picks to allow Parcells out of his contract to coach their division rivals.

Duane Charles Parcells was born on August 22, 1941, in Englewood, New Jersey. The son of an attorney, Parcells grew up in the upper-middle-class suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey. After playing football at Witchita State, Bill Parcells was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions but never played as he was cut in training camp. 

After he was released, Bill Parcells began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Hastings. Parcells moved around three jobs in three years in the early years, ending in a four-year stint as an assistant coach at Army. In 1978, Bill Parcells got a chance to be a head coach at Air Force, where he posted a 3-8 record before moving on to the NFL.

 Bill Parcells landed with the New York Giants as a linebackers coach in 1979. After moving on to the New England Patriots in 1980, Parcells returned to the Giants as defensive coordinator in 1981. After two seasons, Parcells became head coach of the Giants in 1983. He was nearly fired after one season, posting a record of 3-12-1. Bill Parcells made several adjustments and led the Giants to a playoff berth in 1984 and 1985. In 1986, Parcells led the Giants to the first Super Bowl championship. They won again four years later. After the Giants beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, Bill Parcells decided to step down for health reasons. He later needed a heart bypass. 

The next two seasons, Bill Parcells worked for NBC Sports. He briefly flirted with taking a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but changed his mind after a handshake deal, feeling it was not the right time to return. Rested and recovered from his surgery, Bill Parcells became coach of the New England Patriots in 1993, as the franchise was in serious trouble. They had the top pick in the draft after a 2-14 season but had an owner James Orthwein who wanted to move the team to St. Louis. The Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe and began to turn things around in 1993. At the same time, Orthwein blocked from moving, sold the team to Robert Kraft. 

The Patriots made the playoffs for the first time in eight years in 1994. However, after a setback in 1995, the relationship between Robert Kraft and Bill Parcells began to fracture as Parcells wanted more control over player personnel. Simultaneously, the New York Jets were going through hard times, following a 3-13 season in 1995. The Jets were going 1-15 with Richie Kotite as coach. Rumors were circulating that the Jets wanted to hire Parcells. These rumors became the story of Super Bowl XXXI as the Patriots were beaten by the Green Bay Packers 35-21. The Patriots had a great season in 1996, as Bill Belichick, a long time Parcells assistant, joined the coaching staff after he was dismissed by the Cleveland Browns. 

Just days after the Super Bowl, Bill Parcells left New England, stating his outrage over a fight in the draft room with Robert Kraft, stating, "They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?" He had one year left on his deal with the Patriots and could not take a job with the Jets as he desired. Instead, the Jets named Bill Belichick as interim coach for 1997, with Parcells serving as an advisor until he could take the job in 1998. 

The setup was a sham, and the Patriots began arguing for compensation. The NFL stepped in with commissioner Paul Tagliabue brokering a dealt that saw the Patriots receive four picks from the Jets, the third-round and fourth-round picks in 1997, and the first and second-round choices in 1998. Pete Carroll, a former Jets coach, took over for Bill Parcells in New England. He would be dismissed after three seasons. Simultaneously, Parcells turned around the Jets' fortunes but stepped down to allow Bill Belichick to become the Jets' new coach. However, Belichick would resign and took the job in New England. The Jets would receive draft picks in return.