Didinger: Pro Football HOF snubs Parcells


The first big surprise of Super Bowl week came Saturday night when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2012 and Bill Parcells name was not on the list.

Parcells, the only coach to take four different NFL teams to the postseason, was not one of the six men chosen for induction by the board of selectors who voted earlier in the day in Indianapolis.

Those who made the cut were running back Curtis Martin, center Dermontti Dawson, defensive end Chris Doleman, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, offensive tackle Willie Roaf and defensive back Jack Butler.

Many people viewed Parcells selection as a slam dunk. He was the biggest name among the 15 finalists and it seemed like the perfect stage for his election with two of his former teams, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, competing in Sundays Super Bowl. Parcells coached each of those franchises to the championship game.

Another surpriseat least to mewas the selectors once again passing over Cris Carter, who started his career with the Eagles and played 16 seasons, retiring as one of the most productive wide receivers of all-time. His 1,101 catches and 130 touchdowns ranks fourth on the all-time list yet he keeps coming up short in the Hall of Fame voting.

Two other receiversTim Brown (Oakland) and Andre Reed (Buffalo)also fell short. Others left out were running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, linebacker Kevin Greene, offensive linemen Will Shields and Dick Stanfel, team owner Ed DeBartolo and cornerback Aeneas Williams.

The voting is done by a 44-member board which consists of media members from all the NFL cities. A candidate must receive at least 80 percent of the total vote for election so it is not easy. Still, Parcells seemed like a good bet especially with so many of his old rivals offering testimonials on his behalf.

I think hes an easy choice, a cinch, former Washington coach Joe Gibbs told the New York Daily News. The guy has done a lot and I have a lot of respect for him.

Gibbs was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. His Redskin teams and Parcells Giants teams had many memorable battles, including the 1987 NFC championship game which the Giants won 17-0 en route to its first Super Bowl victory over Denver.

We had some wars, Gibbs said. It was a great rivalry. When you try to go up against someone really good, one of the thrills in life is to try and beat them.

Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants (XXI, XXV). He also coached the Patriots to a Super Bowl (XXXI) which they lost to Green Bay. He ranks 10th among all-time NFL head coaches in wins with 183.

The strongest endorsement for Parcells is his record for turning around hapless teams. The Giants were in sad shape when he took over and he built them into a power in what was then a fearsome NFC East. The Patriots were a wreck when he went there and in just four years he had them in the Super Bowl.

Parcells took over the New York Jets when they were coming off their 1-15 season under Rich Kotite. He improved the team to 9-7 in his first year and led the Jets to the AFC title game the next year. From there, Parcells went to Dallas where he kicked the Cowboys in the seat of their silver britches and had them in the playoffs in his first season.

He wasnt easy to get along with and his restless waysmoving from job to job, retiring and then un-retiringcould exasperate his employers, but there is no denying his record. He is one of the best coaches of his era.

Parcells will, however, be in Canton for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Aug. 4. Thats because Martin, who was drafted by Parcells in New England and played most of his career for the coach, asked Parcells to be his Hall of Fame presenter.

I dont think I would have played more than four or five years without Bill Parcells, Martin said at Saturdays press conference in Indianapolis.

Here are some highlights on the six newest members of the Hall:

Dermontti Dawson played 13 seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made seven Pro Bowls and started 170 consecutive games. Perhaps the best endorsement for Dawson is this: He succeeded the great Mike Webster at center for the Steelers and no one noticed a drop off. Enough said.

Chris Doleman played 15 seasons, mostly with Minnesota but also Atlanta and San Francisco. He made the Pro Bowl with all three teams. He finished with 151 career sacks and 37 forced fumbles, more than either Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White.

Cortez Kennedy played 11 seasons, all with the Seattle Seahawks which caused him to be underrated most of his career. His best season was 1992 when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year while playing for a 2-14 team. He had 92 tackles (28 for a loss) and 14 quarterback sacks that year.

Curtis Martin played 11 seasons with the Patriots and New York Jets. He retired as the fourth leading rusher in NFL history (14,101 yards). He and Barry Sanders are the only two players to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of their first 10 seasons. He is the oldest player to lead the league in rushing. He had 1,697 yards in 2004 at age 31.

Willie Roaf played 13 seasons with New Orleans and Kansas City. He started at right tackle as a rookie then moved to left tackle the next year and became a Pro Bowl fixture (11 appearances). He was voted to the NFLs All-Decade Team for the 1990s.

Jack Butler was a senior candidate. He played nine seasons, all with the Steelers. When he retired following the 1959 season, he had 52 interceptions, second on the all-time list.

E-mail Ray Didinger at viewfromthehall@comcast.net

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