Last year New England Patriots fans were reminded of the betrayal of a former star when running back Curtis Martin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This weekend it happened again for the second straight year as Saturday evening it was announced that former head coach Bill Parcells will be inducted. That makes two straight years that Patriots fans are reminded of painful memories from nearly 20 years ago.
Prior to 1993 the Patriots were an afterthought of Boston sports. With the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics, all playing in the city, nobody cared about the football team just outside the city. But then things changed. For a brief period of time, the Patriots became a team to beat in the AFC winning the conference championship in 1996.
In 1993 Parcells was hired as head coach. Fresh off two Super Bowl victories with the New York Giants, Parcells would build the Patriots into a winner. It started with the drafting of Drew Bledsoe who would lead the Patriots for the next decade. It continued when two years later Parcells drafted Martin who would become an immediate star leading the AFC in rushing his rookie season.
It all culminated in 1996 when the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XXXI. Although they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21, it looked as though the future was bright. Then it all started to fall apart. First Parcells decided not to fly home with the team from New Orleans. Then it was revealed that he was leaving the AFC champions to join their hated rivals, the New York Jets.
Just a year later it got worse when Patriots fans were forced to watch Martin flee joining Parcells in New York. Though the Jets never reached the heights that the Patriots did during that period, it was painful to see two of the three biggest reasons the franchise had turned around appearing for their biggest rival.
After a couple of tough years things changed for the Patriots. In 2000 the Patriots hired Bill Belichick, a former assistant of Parcells, away from the Jets to be their head coach. A year later Tom Brady, a sixth round pick in 2000, would take over for Bledsoe. The two would lead the Patriots on a remarkable run of three Super Bowl wins in four years. The pain brought by the departure of Martin and Parcells had faded.
But these last two years the memory of that pain returned as Patriots fans had to watch Martin cross the stage as a hall of fame inductee last year and this year will have to watch Parcells do the same. It will remind Patriots fans of the lost years that could have been glorious. And while the Patriots are now in a better position than they could have ever dreamed in 1998, the feeling of that betrayal will linger for another summer.