No Parcells? Shame on Hall of Fame

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Bill Parcells came up for discussion Saturday during the Hall of Fame selection meeting, the 44-member committee spent nearly an hour debating the pros and cons of his candidacy, according to people in the room.

Parcells should've been a slam dunk, should've been sent to Canton on roller skates (to use one of his favorite expressions), but dissenters on the committee were bothered by his itinerant career path, one person said.

In other words, his job hopping; he was the head coach of four teams.

That was a ridiculous reason to keep Parcells out of the Hall of Fame.

No doubt, Parcells, now an ESPN studio analyst, never was very good at saying goodbye. His departures ranged from shocking (New York Giants) to acrimonious (New England Patriots) to awkward (New York Jets) to just plain weird (Dallas Cowboys).

OK, the man didn't do tearful farewells. He was mercurial, to say the least. But that shouldn't be a blemish on his coaching record. The record is the record: He won two Super Bowls with the Giants, won an AFC championship with the Patriots, led the Jets to the AFC title game and might have done the same for the Cowboys in the NFC if Tony Romo hadn't bobbled the snap on a chip-shot field goal.

Parcells is the only coach in history to take four different teams to the playoffs, so he evidently was doing something right in between job hops.

Parcells rebuilt franchises. The Patriots and Jets were in horrible shape when he arrived, and soon he had them competing for titles.

Parcells established an impressive coaching tree. Two of his disciples, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, are competing Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI. Belichick has three Super Bowl rings, Coughlin has one and another Parcells protégé, Sean Payton, won a ring with the New Orleans Saints.

Parcells was one of the three best coaches of his generation. The others were Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs, both in the Hall of Fame. Parcells was 1-0 against Gibbs in the postseason, a dominating win in the NFC Championship Game, and he was 2-1 against Walsh.

Walsh was perhaps the greatest offensive mind in history, with perhaps the greatest quarterback, Joe Montana, and he managed only three points in back-to-back playoff losses to the Giants in 1985 and 1986.

You could make the argument Parcells was more deserving of enshrinement this year than Curtis Martin, his beloved running back. The other modern-era players going to Canton are Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy and Willie Roaf.

Do you know how many Super Bowl championships they've won? Zero.

Parcells has two titles. Winning still matters, doesn't it? He won in 1986 with the defensive-minded Giants, and he rebuilt the core of the team and won again in 1990, doing it with a backup quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, taking over for the injured Phil Simms.

But Parcells doesn't get in, not in his first year as a finalist. Oh, he made the final 10, but that's little consolation. Either you're in or you're out.

Parcells, reached Saturday night by ESPNNewYork.com, was willing to talk about Martin, not his own situation. He sounded disappointed, and he had a right to be. The committee made a mess of this. The selection process is flawed and political, and this time it got Parcells.

Bad job.