Head coach Bill Parcells joined an exclusive group of NFL legends tonight as he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
"The players deserve a chance to win," Parcells said in his speech at Fawcett Stadium, "and you as an organization, a university and a head coach have an obligatory responsibility to give it to them."
Parcells did that for the Jets, whom he coached from 1997-99. They had gone eight seasons without a winning record and were coming off of their 1-15 season in 1996 when Parcells took the reins.
He instantly turned the struggling franchise around as the Jets posted a 9-7 record in his first season. They then went 12-4 in 1998, winning the division for the first time since 1969, and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. It remains the best two-year turnaround of a 1-15 team in NFL history.
Parcells recalled a plaque with a quote from Emlen Tunnell, the Hall of Famer and Giants DB, that read: "Losers assemble in little groups, and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups, while winners assemble as a team. Well, tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I get to do just that."
Curtis Martin, Hall of Famer and former Jets running back, said of his former coach, "He would always say 'pressure busts pipes.' His philosophy is that when you get in the game, he wants to see if you're going to be that pipe that busts."
Martin's first career preseason game stood out as a moment in which Parcells did his best to see if the talented back would bust under pressure. After starting the game with eight consecutive rushes for Martin, Parcells called him over.
"I come to the sideline, and I'm so tired," Martin recalled in a recent YES Network interview. "Literally, snot is coming out of my nose. Parcells said, 'You want to go back in?' I said, 'Yes, yes.' And I go to turn around, and he grabs me by my collar and says, 'No, you're done. You're done.' He said, 'I just wanted to test you.' "
Kevin Mawae, who played under Parcells as a member of the Green & White in 1998 and '99, tweeted:
Just listened to Bill Parcells' #HoF induction speech-fans got a glimpse of why I say he was the best coach I ever had #newyorkjets
Parcells won two Super Bowls, both with the New York Giants, who won Super Bowl XXI over the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl XXV over the Buffalo Bills in 1991.
"The Big Tuna" was named the NFL Coach of the Year twice, after the 1986 and 1994 seasons.
He posted a regular-season record of 172-130-1 record and an 11-8 postseason record, including winning four of five playoff matchups against fellow Hall of Fame coaches Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs and Marv Levy. He ranks 10th all-time with 303 games coached and 11th all-time in victories.
Bill Parcells' teams finished either first or second in their division in 11 of 19 seasons. Despite taking over struggling teams four times, those 19 teams posted just five losing records. He stands alone as the only head coach in NFL history to lead four different teams into the playoffs.
Parcells concluded his speech tonight by saying, "I'm honored, I'm grateful, and I'm thankful to every single one of you out there that had something to do with this."
Six players joined Parcells in the Hall of Fame's Class of 2013: G/T Larry Allen, WR Cris Carter, DT Curley Culp, T Jonathan Ogden, LB Dave Robinson and DT Warren Sapp.