On Feb. 11, 1997 future Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells left his current job as the head coach of the New England Patriots to join the rival New York Jets in the same position. The reason for the departure was mainly due to disagreements with the Patriots owner, Robert Kraft as well as Kraft’s influence on player personnel decisions. In an interview with the New York Times, Parcells was famously quoted as saying, “They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” The biggest incident revolving around this problem was during the 1996 draft when Parcells wanted to take defensive end Tony Brackens out of Texas, but Kraft and management forced him to take Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn with the team’s seventh overall selection.
Parcells had a great career before coming to New England by winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants in 1986 and 1990. After a brief two-year retirement he came to Foxborough to start the ’93 season. He turned a laughing stock of the league that had not had a winning season in five years into a team that made the playoffs in his second year, and the Super Bowl in his fourth. Unfortunately, they would lose this game to the Green Bay Packers 35-21 and it would be the last game that Parcells would coach for the Patriots. The entire week leading up to the big game he dodged questions from the media about the possibility of him leaving. After the game, he did not travel back on the same flight as the rest of the team, a move that still bothers Patriots fans to this day.
Parcells did look to accept the Jets head coach position, but not after a long-drawn-out fight. He was still under contract in New England and could not legally take the job. New York hired his No. 1 assistant, fellow future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick, to be the head coach and for Parcells to be in an advisory role. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue brokered a deal that would allow Parcells to become the coach and the Patriots would receive a first-round compensation pick. Parcells and Belichick would stay in New York for three seasons, where the team would amass a 29-19 record and make an AFC championship game in 1998.
After Parcells retired following the ’99 season, he named Belichick as his successor, where he would hold that position for one day before resigning to go back to New England. The Patriots had just fired their coach Pete Carroll, who is another one possibly destined for the Hall of Fame. Belichick would go on to win six Super Bowls, three Coach of the Year awards and many other accolades in New England. He currently sits 20 wins away from being the NFL’s all-time leader in career wins by a coach, a title that is currently held by former rival Don Shula. After the Patriots, Carroll had a legendary career at the University of Southern California where his team would win two national championships and seven straight conference championships. After a scandal surfaced about the program in 2009, he jumped ship and became coach of the Seattle Seahawks where he would win the 2014 Super Bowl and be named to the 2010’s All-Decade team. Parcells would retire for three years after leaving New York before coming back to coaching the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006. The team went 34-30 during this time and made the playoffs twice, losing in the Wild Card round both times. It really makes you think about how much the history of the NFL would have changed if Parcells never left New England 26 years ago.