Former NFL player Marcellus Wiley once told me that if you took Bill Parcells out to a practice field and told him he only had five minutes to evaluate 100 players, he could still tell you the strengths and weaknesses of every man on that field to a T. So it’s not surprising that the “Big Tuna” knew that Rex Ryan was going to be successful in the NFL.
According to a ESPNNewYork.com report, Parcells advised Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum to hire Ryan two years ago. In fact, had Parcells not be so close with current Dolphins’ head coach Tony Sparano when they two of them coached together in Dallas, he would have hired Ryan in Miami.
“Yes, that’s correct,” Parcells said.
“I was very impressed with Rex when I met with him,” Parcells said Tuesday night by phone. “I could just sense that, ‘Hey, this guy’s going to have a chance.'”
“I had a fierce rivalry with Rex’s father when I was coaching the Giants,” Parcells said, “but I held Buddy in high regard. What made Buddy a dangerous adversary was that he knew what he was looking for personnel-wise, and Rex is the same way. That’s a pretty good head start for Rex because there are quite a few coaches in this league who don’t know what they’re looking for.”
Parcells was very clear in the interview that he takes no credit for Rex’s development, or even for Tannenbaum’s decision to hire him. And why would he? He still receives paychecks with the Miami Dolphins’ logo on it, so why would he want to admit to helping a division rival?
But here’s the thing: that’s exactly what he did. Give Tannenbaum credit for pulling the trigger on Ryan, but there’s no doubt that Parcells nudged him in the right direction. He’s Bill Parcells. The man knows football and can spot talent while blindfolded and drunk on scotch. Tannenbaum may have been leaning towards hiring Rex all along, but would anyone be surprised if his mind wasn’t completely made up until after Parcells shared his opinion? I wouldn’t.
As a football fan, I will forever been impressed with Parcells’ knowledge of the NFL. His ego is the size of Jerry Jones’ bank account but I don’t question for a second that he knew Ryan would be successful.
That said, if I were a Dolphin fan I’d be fuming after reading this. Parcells had a small hand in hiring Rex Ryan? Really? Is that the same man that has taken the Jets to two straight AFC title games while Sparano has overseen two straight losing seasons in Miami? The same Sparano whom Parcells hired three years ago instead of Ryan? Gee, thanks, Tuna.
Granted, Parcells’ involvement with the Jets’ hiring Ryan could have been as simple as him telling Tannebaum, “Hey Mike, you might want to take a long look at Rex Ryan.” If that’s the case, then this story isn’t a big deal and again, we should bask in Parcells’ greatness as a talent evaluator. (Plus, there’s no guarantee and no way of knowing that Ryan would have succeed in Miami had Parcells hired him for the Dolphins job.)
But considering the current state of the Miami Dolphins, I wouldn’t be thrilled if I were a Dolpfan right now.