It’s time for the NFL to sit back in NOLA, take a deep breath, and put its party pants on for tonight and tomorrow in advance of Sunday night’s Super Bowl. The Harbaughs conducted their I-Concur news conference this morning, Commissioner Goodell’s wrapped up his annual state-of-the-league Q&A, and there’s not much else of an official nature to do down by the banks of the Mississippi except to laissez les bon temps rouler.
Except for some serious work of 46 individuals who will be virtually locked in a New Orleans meeting room for eight hours beginning Saturday morning.
Those 46 are the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee who will choose this year’s Class of ’13 for entrance into football’s shrine. Before them tomorrow morning along with their French roast coffee and beignets will be the list of 17 HOF final candidates, which they will proceed to prune away to no fewer than four and no more than seven members of this year’s class.
And the name on the list that most Jets fans will be keenly interested in is that of Bill Parcells.
Certainly it’s the top name on the list made by Curtis Martin, who made the Hall last year and was presented for enshrinement by Parcells in Canton last August.
“Bill’s more than deserving,” Martin told me from his Florida home this afternoon. “I’m not one of those guys that will look back and say he should’ve been in last year or whatever. At the end of the day it is what it is. But I’m really hoping and I do believe that he’ll make it this year, and I’m really looking forward to going back out there to Canton and celebrating it with him.”
Parcells was a finalist along with Martin a year ago, but unlike his superb running back, the Tuna couldn’t swim upstream from the final 10 candidates into the final five. In less than a day he’ll try to make that climb again.
Another who thinks he’ll do it is Gary Myers, the Daily News columnist and Selection Committee member who was the point man in guiding Martin’s candidacy to fruition last year and this year will also be making the Parcells presentation to the committee.
“Bill’s impact on the game, I believe, makes his a very strong case,” Myers said in his piece in the News this morning. “If Parcells isn’t a Hall of Famer, then just who is?”
Much of Myers’ presentation and the discussion “in the room” will no doubt deal with Parcells’ credentials with the Giants, who won two Super Bowls under his command, and his Patriots, who made one Super appearance. But his four-year stop with the Jets, from 1997-99 as head coach and in 2000 running the football operations, will also factor into the discussion.
Parcells arrived in ’97 and turned the Jets around from their 4-28 record of the previous two seasons into a winning team that was in the playoff hunt until their 13-10 loss at Detroit in the final game of the regular season. In ’98 he directed them all the way to a 10-0 lead early in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game before their season came to an end at Denver. Injuries crushed the start of the ’99 season, but by the end of the year the Jets were the proverbial team nobody would’ve wanted to face if they had made the playoffs. The 2000 season was filled with promise until a disastrous December downturn.
And then Bill was gone. The one playoff berth and title-game appearance wasn’t what Parcells or anyone else in Jets Nation wanted, and yet he was the first coach in franchise history to produce 30 wins in a three-year span, the first to preside over 40 wins in a four-year span. The Jets were the third of the four franchises he guided to playoff berths, an NFL coaching record. He brought the Green & White back to relevancy as in the last 16 years the Jets have made seven playoff appearances and posted 10 winning seasons, as good as or better than the totals in those two categories over the franchise’s previous 37 seasons.
Of course there are no guarantees. The dynamics that last year kept Parcells out in his third time as a Hall finalist could repeat. A new field of well-qualified finalists could freeze Bill out of the final-five again.
But this year just feels like it’s “temps” that BP “roule.” As Myers said, if not Parcells, who? As Martin told me, “I can’t imagine Bill not being in the Hall of Fame two years in a row. Last year was kind of hard to believe. This year would be incredibly hard to understand.”
The Selection Committee members know that as well. Sometime shortly after 5:30 p.m. ET tomorrow, I suspect that Parcells will begin his ascension into the pigskin pantheon.
We’ll have a follow-up story on Bill Parcells’ Hall of Fame candidacy Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, Gary Myers, Pro Football Hall of Fame
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