By TomE. Curran
I guess the current term you'd use for the way Bill Parcells exited New England in early 1997 is that he "wishes he had that one back."During a conference call Monday morning discussing his nomination for induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Parcells reflected on his messy departure from New England after the Patriots' Super Bowl loss to Green Bay. "As you know we had domestic misunderstandings with ownership I do regret," he said. "Those things since have been resolved. I think retrospectively, I would have handled things substantially different than I did. I was always saddened by the fact I had to leave there. In all honesty, I really didn't want to. I'm sure (owner Robert Kraft) would say something along those lines. We have talked about that. I did regret that. That's life. You learn from things as you go on."
Parcells left the Patriots in a huff after the 1996 season after months of closed-door feuding with ownership over - basically - who had final say over player acquisition and the philosophy the team would employ in team-building. That led to the infamous "if they want you to cook the dinner, at least they should let you shop for the groceries" line. Rankled as Parcells was over what he saw as a challenge to his power, he sullied his legacy in New England by negotiating privately to take over the Jets as the Patriots were preparing to play the Packers in Super Bowl XXX. There are plenty of people who don't fully forgive him for that around here. And that swath of folks will quite likely be dismissive of Parcells' epiphany over the things he did wrong. Parcells says there was never any one air-clearing meeting with Kraft.
I dont know if there was any definitive time (that the two men spoke)," Parcells explained. "We just kind of ran into each other a few times. You know, you cant help but talk things over a little bit. We never had a lengthy conversation about it. Certainly I know, I would have probably handled things differently." The irony is, had Parcells handled things differently, the succession pattern of Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick would have been drastically altered. And there's a lot of reason to believe the banners and excellence that followed wouldn't have been the same.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran