Bill Parcells told the Jets to hire Rex Ryan

A few weeks ago, there was a bit of an uproar in South Florida over a report the San Francisco 49ers wanted to seek Bill Parcells' counsel regarding their organizational direction.

Dolfans didn't like the idea of Parcells helping another NFL team while he's still drawing a paycheck from the Miami Dolphins as a consultant.

Would it make Dolfans feel any better that two years ago -- while still a full-fledged executive vice president with an office, parking spot, secretary and access to free office supplies -- Parcells advised the New York Jets to hire Rex Ryan?

ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor caught up with Parcells to revisit that moment and other thoughts on Ryan's success. Ryan has reached the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons as Jets head coach.

Parcells said he probably would have hired Ryan on the spot for the Dolphins had he not been so close to Tony Sparano, who served on Parcells' staff with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dolphins won the AFC East title in Sparano's first season, but they have gone 7-9 back-to-back years and tried to replace Sparano with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh two weeks ago.

"I was very impressed with Rex when I met with him," Parcells told O'Connor. "I could just sense that, 'Hey, this guy's going to have a chance.' "

He was so impressed that when Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum approached him for guidance upon firing Eric Mangini at the end of the 2008 season, Parcells recommended Ryan for the job -- even though the Dolphins would face him twice a year.

"I enjoy his personality," Parcells told me two months after the Jets hired Ryan. "I think he's a real football guy. Football is very, very important to him. Those are the kinds of guys that I like.

"I'm happy he got a chance to be a head coach. He's good. You've got to welcome competition. That's the way it is. It's a highly competitive industry. I like to see young guys get a chance."

Parcells also recalled what he declared "my saddest day in professional football," when he guided the Jets to the AFC Championship Game and had a 10-0 lead in the third quarter before succumbing to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.

Parcells compared that defeat to the top-seeded New England Patriots' stunning elimination Sunday.

"It was such a devastating loss, it's hard to explain how I felt," Parcells said. "I'm sure it's how Bill Belichick felt last Sunday. I'm sure every coach gets to a place where you think you can go to the next spot, and you don't get to go. It takes a lot of blood to get back there, and those windows can close fast."