Patriots Win Would Net 'Big Tuna' Place in History
With the Super Bowl countdown under way, two coaches who've previously been to the National Football League's championship game sat coasts apart, addressing press conference inquiries of a far different nature.Skip to next paragraph
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In California, George Seifert, back from a Mexican fishing trip, announced his resignation as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. In Massachusetts, the "Big Tuna" (New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells) dispensed his daily wisdom to reporters angling for Super Bowl leads.
Parcells is back in "The Show," as he calls the Super Bowl. Seifert will only be an interested observer of Sunday's game.
Professional coaching at any level is a taxing experience, and those who assume their posts in the NFL know perhaps better than most the tenuous nature and relentless tension of leading franchises in today's big-business sports world.
At the moment, Parcells and Green Bay's Mike Holmgren are the men of the hour, the guys caught in the blender of demands made upon Super Bowl coaches: Devise a strategy, meet the media, conduct practices, marshall the troops, and, make sure their team wins.
Having coached the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, a win Sunday would make Parcells the first coach to lead two different clubs to Super Bowl victory. Holmgren, meanwhile, was in the supporting cast as an assistant coach when the 49ers won the '89 and '90 Super Bowls.
Parcells says the opportunity to compete in a Super Bowl is the ultimate in his profession. Speaking of the moments waiting in the stadium tunnel for the Super Bowl introductions, he says, "I can remember everything about that first time in Pasadena [Calif.] - where everyone was standing and everything. The same with Tampa [Fla.]. It's a euphoria."
The morning after his Patriots won the American Football Conference championship over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Parcells was in his office at 3 a.m. reviewing the film from the previous night's game. A vigorous work ethic is standard equipment for NFL coaches, but dedication alone doesn't bring results.
New England lineman William Roberts, who played for Parcells in New York, says the Patriots coach is equal parts "X's and O's guy and motivator." He also is an organizer who leaves few stones unturned.
Shortly after the Patriots earned passage to New Orleans for Super Bowl XXXI, Parcells provided each player with a six-page document outlining the team rules and procedures leading up to the game.
He wants no distractions, either about player tickets or his own uncertain future - his contract expires after the season and many have speculated that he'll go elsewhere to achieve the total football control he desires.
Although one might think he'd keep a tight rein on his charges in the Big Easy, Parcells is cutting them some slack. "I want them to enjoy this experience," he says. "I am not going to have a curfew for a couple nights. I trust this team." Still, he says wayward sheep will be told to hit the road - at their own expense.