An often-perceptive, warts-and-all account by veteran sportswriter Gutman (My Father, the Coach, 1976, etc.) of one of football’s most interesting, successful, and mercurial coaches.
If the National Football League’s coaching community has a patron saint of lost causes, it has to be Parcells. Famed for turning around moribund franchises—he’s taken two perennial losers (the New York Giants and the New England Patriots) to the Super Bowl, and coached a third (the New York Jets) from a 1–15 record to the league’s penultimate game—Parcells’s great leadership ability comes wrapped in a peculiar package. A born-and-bred “Jersey guy,” Parcells can be at any given moment folksy or imperious, warm-hearted or sharp-tongued. Known as much for building winners as he is for leaving them in dramatic fashion—he ditched the Giants after winning his second Super Bowl in 1991; he broke with the Patriots after their trip to the championship game, an event that required league intervention to settle; and he left the Jets with a year remaining on his contract—Parcells is also famously loyal to the cadre of colleagues that have been part of his coaching staff for nearly two decades. (Two of them, Ray Handley and Al Groh, succeeded Parcells at the Giants and Jets; while a third, Bill Belichick, was designated Parcells’s successor at the Jets until he orchestrated his own rancorous departure to the Patriots.) Taking readers through Parcells’s peripatetic coaching journey (which included stops at Wichita State, Army, Texas Tech, Air Force, and three NFL teams), Gutman sheds light on his subject’s offbeat brand of genius.
The author’s wide-ranging knowledge and generous insights (gained through interviews with many of Parcells’s associates) make this solid off-season reading for Parcells fans and detractors alike.