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Parcells' Book Details Highs And Lows Of His NFL Coaching Career
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Parcells' Book Details Highs And Lows Of His NFL Coaching Career

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Parcells' Book Details Highs And Lows Of His NFL Coaching Career

Parcells' Book Details Highs And Lows Of His NFL Coaching Career
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Bill Parcells recently recounted his life and career in a memoir, Parcells: A Football Life. David Greene sits down with Parcells to talk about his legacy, and the challenges the league faces today.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk now about the major decisions that an American has made in his career and in his life. It is Super Bowl weekend, and we're going to listen to Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. He also mentored coaches, including Bill Belichick, who's taking the Patriots to the Super Bowl Sunday. Parcells has a book out called, "Parcells: A Football Life," and he spoke with our colleague, David Greene.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: We sat down with him near his winter home in Jupiter, FL. Surprising thing, Parcells almost didn't coach football.

BILL PARCELLS: You know, I thought about law school a little bit. My dad had his law degree. I was working for a franchise called Pizza Hut when I was in school. And I was really in on the - literally the ground floor of that company.

GREENE: Wait a minute. This isn't the Bill Parcells I know. This is the Bill Parcells I know.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PARCELLS: (Yelling) I'm going to tell you, those [bleep] linemen are standing around, wandering around. O'Leary don't even know to get on the [bleep] line of scrimmage.

GREENE: With these fiery tirades on the sideline, he was known as one of the fiercest coaches in the game. Parcells says he got a lot of that from his upbringing in N.J. His mom had what he called a big heart and short fuse. And his players might say the same about him.

PARCELLS: You can't be pretentious in this business. It's easily identified by the players. So you kind of have to be who you are. And yet, if you're forthright and honest and trying to do the best for your team, it doesn't really matter how you deliver the message.

GREENE: I read, and it struck me, that you weren't totally satisfied with that being the image that people are kind of left with.

PARCELLS: Well, I think when you're on television and they're seeing you on the sidelines and they see you in moments under duress and in moments where you are angry and frustrated, I think they form an opinion that that's you. And that, in reality, is just a very fragment of what you are. And I am that way in some respects, no doubt. And I'm not always proud of that.

GREENE: Take me to a moment that you're not proud of.

PARCELLS: I would say I was an average parent at best. I cared about my children a great deal. But I wasn't always there for them. And I missed a lot. And I was too busy chasing my dreams.

GREENE: And his book focuses a lot on his regrets, missing graduations and precious time with his three daughters. And yet, he sounds so much like a father when he talks about his players, like Lawrence Taylor, a Hall of Fame Giants linebacker who struggled with drug abuse.

PARCELLS: The thing about Lawrence - he would never not tell me the truth. So when I couldn't get a hold of him for some reason, then I always worried.

GREENE: Listening to how you talk about him, it almost sounds like he's a son to you.

PARCELLS: Well, there's a lot of sons out there. He's not just the only one. He's just one of the - he was one of the squeakier wheels. And there are a lot of them out there - a lot. But that's what this game does. People don't - they don't understand. Inside these locker rooms, those are great laboratories for human behavior. You see it all there. And it's not all - it's not all what people think. There's a lot of sensitivity there. There's a lot of care in there. And those championship teams, they - they're kind of attached together.

GREENE: What about losing teams - perpetually losing teams...

PARCELLS: I don't know.

GREENE: (Laughter). I guess that's a good point.

PARCELLS: Really, I don't know that. Now, have I been through some disappointing seasons? Absolutely. And I have had a lot of heartache games that could have meant another championship and just didn't quite get to it.

GREENE: In his three decades as coach, Parcells won those two Super Bowls with the Giants. But the sweetest moment in his career, he says, was the game that got the Giants to the big stage the second time.

PARCELLS: We won the NFC Championship in 1990 against the San Francisco 49ers with three seconds on the clock.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: And the kick is good. The Giants win it, 15-13.

GREENE: But then there are the low points. Late in his career, he felt like he still had a Super Bowl run in him. His Dallas Cowboys were in a 2007 playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks - fourth quarter, a minute left, they're down by one point.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: So if you're Parcells, now, I mean, you're almost compelled to go for the field goal.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #3: You have to kick the field goal.

GREENE: It's a really short field goal, almost automatic. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is going to hold the ball for the kicker.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Nineteen-yard field goal attempt. (Yelling) Oh, and it's fumbled by Romo. And then Romo's going to run to the end zone. And he's going to get tackled by Jordan Babineaux.

(CROWD CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Amazing.

PARCELLS: Of course, that was the last game I ever coached. So obviously, it had an effect on me.

GREENE: I mean, now that - now that you're away from football, not coaching, out of the front office, are you watching football...

PARCELLS: Oh, sure.

GREENE: Every weekend?

PARCELLS: Oh, yeah. And right now, this time of year, my phone's blowing up.

GREENE: Who's calling?

PARCELLS: It's blowing up every day.

GREENE: Who's calling?

PARCELLS: Coaches, general managers, owners, a lot of people that are still involved in the game. And that's a nice part of having been there and done it. When people are calling you and asking you for advice on certain subjects, it's nice, you know?

GREENE: How important has it been to watch some of these coaches who you've brought up, the Bill Parcells coaching tree? I mean, I think of Tom Coughlin with the Giants...

PARCELLS: Well, listen...

GREENE: And Belichick with the Patriots and...

PARCELLS: I want to say this. They're their own men. They are - they're their own men. You can say Parcells coaching tree, but they're their own guys. And they've done it basically on their own. But all of us need a - just a little push in the right direction - not that my way was the right way for everybody or even the right way for very many. But it's nice to see that guys came up with you to go on and be successful.

GREENE: And win Super Bowls.

PARCELLS: And win Super Bowls. That's - yeah, I take a great deal of pride in that.

GREENE: And when Bill Belichick, a member of that Parcells coaching tree, leads the New England Patriots on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, going for his fourth Super Bowl title, you can understand what's on the line just by listening to a speech from Bill Parcells. It's from his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PARCELLS: We've got happiness. We've got humor, practical jokes, hilarity, success, achievement. And then we've got that momentary time of exhilaration when you hoist that championship trophy over your head. And I don't know what happens, but some mystical blood kinship is formed. And although it's a fleeting moment, that kinship lasts for the rest of your life.

GREENE: That's Bill Parcells. His book is called "Parcells: A Football Life."

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