Legendary coach Bill Parcells was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame Saturday night, the perfect honor to cap a career that saw him win 183 games and two Super Bowls while coaching four different teams. Parcells is best remembered as the coach of the 1980s New York Giants teams that featured Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor and won two Super Bowls.
However, the Giants are not the only franchise that looks back on its time with Parcells with fondness. The New York Jets only had Parcells for a few short years, but he was responsible for the their most successful team since the 1969 Super Bowl winners. Parcells brought the Jets into relevance in the late 1990s, and he laid the foundation for future playoff teams in the 2000s.
After luring Parcells away from the rival New England Patriots, the Jets immediately found success. Parcells engineered an eight game turnaround from the previous season, giving the Jets their first winning season in nearly 10 years. That offseason, Parcells signed quarterback Vinny Testaverde and running back Curtis Martin.
Testaverde would become a key figure in his time in New York, leading the Jets to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the AFC Championship game in the 1998 season. That team is considered by many to be the best Jets team since the Super Bowl III winners. Martin is one of the greatest players in franchise history and is a Hall of Famer in his own right. His signing may be the single greatest accomplishment of Parcells’ Jets career, as Martin was the team’s star player for the next six seasons.
Parcells was also responsible for the draft that brought Chad Pennington, John Abraham and Shaun Ellis to New York, and each of those players had a role on various playoff teams in the 2000s, including one coached by Parcells disciple Eric Mangini.
This period of success legitimized the Jets after a decade of losing seasons, and it was the decision making of Parcells that led the team back to the playoffs and respectability. Parcells only spent a total of four seasons with the Jets as head coach and general manager, but in that time he shaped the franchise’s direction for the next 10 seasons.
Parcell’s influence is still clear in the Jets organization. Head Coach Rex Ryan said he considers Parcells a mentor, and Ryan became the first coach since Parcells to take the team to the AFC Championship game. The Jets and Patriots often switch coaches and players in free agency, and many of them are either members of Parcells’ coaching tree or have played in systems based on what he ran.
Parcells should be considered one of the two best coaches in Jets history, and Jets fans will be forever grateful to Parcells for saving their downtrodden franchise. The general public may not remember Bill Parcells for his time as a Jet, but the team and their fans will always see Parcells as the man who saved their franchise.