Curtis Martin’s Hall of Fame induction speech

Curtis Martin’s speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is getting a lot of buzz. This guy is brutally honest, and this speech is very impressive. Check it out.

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Parcells to Saints seems more like a reality than a long shot at this point

Bill Parcells can’t help himself, can he? The man can’t not coach when an opportunity presents itself.

Call it a hunch, a gut feeling, or just history simply repeating itself but I think the Big Tuna will wind up taking the Saints’ interim coaching job this season. And his recent comments to Chris Mortensen don’t suggest otherwise.

“If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll think it over and clearly I’m in some phase of the process without knowing whether it’s going to become a reality,” Parcells told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen by phone on Wednesday. “Sean’s become a dear, dear friend. I’m trying to be a friend.

“You know, when I was a young coach, there were people like Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox and Tom Landry who were there for me. I think to honor those guys who helped me, you turn around and pass that legacy on to somebody else and Sean’s an example of that. If he needs me and the owner and GM feel the same way, then I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t consider it.”

Does that sound like a man who wants to keep hanging out with his buddy Bobby Knight while relaxing in his home in Florida? It doesn’t to me. If Parcells didn’t want the job he may lead the media on for a little while but eventually he would simply and bluntly say, “I’m not coming back.”

It’s been a week since Mortensen reported that Sean Payton would approach Parcells about coaching the Saints next season and the story has yet to go off quietly into the good night. Maybe this is the juncture where Parcells is just playing the media but again, it makes too much sense for him to try his hand again at coaching.

Parcells craves being coveted and as he’s suggested, he’s interested in helping one of his protégés. The Saints are a perfect fit because they’re already modeled somewhat after Parcells himself. Granted, Parcells has always preferred a tough defense over a finesse-oriented offense, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t relish watching Drew Brees run Payton’s aggressive attack up close. (Payton was also his QB/Assistant coach in Dallas so obviously he’s fond of Payton and his offensive ideologies.) Plus, teamed with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, he could hand-pick players to rebuild the Saints’ defense. They already added run-stuffing middle linebacker Curtis Lofton earlier this week, and with Parcells’ help as a talent evaluator, they could address holes along the defensive line and outside ‘backer.

If it were another team, I would be more hesitant to suggest that Parcells would come back. But because he knows it’ll only be for one year and he doesn’t have to completely start from scratch (the Saints are already a Super Bowl contender), he can go after his third championship and then exit stage left next January or February. Maybe his heart isn’t in it to deal with the media, but I think he’ll overlook that one aspect for a golden opportunity to win another title.

Update: As I was writing this, Mortensen said on SportsCenter that his “gut feeling” is Pracells will be the Saints’ head coach.

Bill Parcells would be the ultimate coup for the Saints

Leave it to Sean Payton to call the right audible at the line of scrimmage to put the Saints into scoring position.

Roger Goodell is trying to punish the Saints for their “bounty program” and Payton is about to turn the entire situation into a positive for his team. How so? ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported earlier today that Payton has approached Bill Parcells about coaching the Saints during his year-long suspension, which starts April 1. While the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora considers a Parcells-Saints union “unlikely,” FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reports that Payton will meet with Parcells this week. Parcells has been out of the league since 2006, but he’s known as one of the best talent evaluators the NFL has ever seen.

Parcells and a ready-made Super Bowl contender? So much for being punished.
In Parcells, not only would the Saints land a Super Bowl-winning head coach to fill in for Payton, but they’d also have a tremendous talent evaluator study their roster for a year. If you’re a musician, that would be like having Mozart playing your songs while simultaneously giving you helpful hints to improve your music for years to come.

While there are probably a number of hurdles that the Saints would have to jump to bring Parcells in, it seems like a great fit for both sides. After all, Parcells’ skin starts to crawl if he’s in one place too long, so knowing that this is just a one-year stint he could try to win one more Super Bowl before calling it quits for good. Hey, why not if you’re him? He’s one of those guys that need to stay busy and he’s constantly looking for the next big thing.

That next big thing could be the New Orleans Saints, who would essentially cancel out the punishment that was levied by Goodell last week if they can land the “Big Tuna.”

Great partnerships between head coaches and quarterbacks

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (L) talks with head coach Bill Belichick during a timeout in the third quarter of NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami, Florida September 12, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The quarterback has always been the most important position in pro football, even in the days when the running game was dominant. Many fans don’t realize that quarterbacks called all the plays as late as the 1970s and into the early 1980s. So even if offenses weren’t quite as complex back then and great teams had excellent running games, having a field general like Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw or Roger Staubach was critical. As the NFL evolved into a more pass-happy league, an evolution that has accelerated in the last ten years with rules protecting the quarterbacks and defenseless receivers, the importance of the quarterback has only been magnified.

This reality makes the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback the most important in pro football. Look at the great teams over the years, and you see great partnerships between coach and quarterback leading to success on the field. It’s interesting to take a look back and see how these relationships took shape and see how they varied based on the situations and the personalities involved. Here are several interesting examples:

1-Bill Belichick and Tom Brady

Bill Belichick was known as a defensive genius when he took over the New England Patriots, but he was also known as a rigid coach who had a complete lack of imagination on offense as a result of his years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Belichick wanted the quarterback to be just another position on the field as he didn’t seem to acknowledge the leadership qualities of the position. Tom Brady was a sixth round pick sitting on the bench behind Drew Bledsoe.

When Bledsoe got hurt, Belichick turned to Brady and immediately saw Brady’s talent, decision-making and leadership ability. When Bledsoe came back, Belichick decided to stay with Brady, which at the time was a controversial decision. They made it to the Super Bowl, and by then Belichick has so much confidence in Brady that he made the aggressive decision to drive down the field with little time left in the fourth quarter in a tie game against the Rams. John Madden famously said on television that the Patriots should have just run out the clock and took their chances in overtime. Instead, Brady drove the Pats down to the game-winning field goal.

Two more Super Bowls and one undefeated regular season later, this partnership between Belichick and Brady is one of the most successful in NFL history. Belichick and his offensive coaches let Brady achieve his full potential by becoming just as imaginative on offense as Belichick had been his whole career on defense. From year to year the Patriots would beat you in many different ways, and then they grabbed Randy Moss they were almost unbeatable.

2-Mike Shanahan and John Elway

John Elway is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Yet despite his heroics with “The Drive” and countless other games that he won on sheer athletic ability, Elway had never managed to win a Super Bowl. He never had a real running game, and the Denver defenses were routinely embarrassed in Super Bowls. Then Mike Shanahan arrived. Shanahan is a stubborn system guy, and since the John Elway days he’s not had nearly as much success with his arrogant attitude. But Shanahan’s system was exactly what Elway needed. Elway bought into the changes which placed more emphasis on a running game and a disciplined approach to the passing game, and the result was two Super Bowl titles.

3-Bill Walsh and Joe Montana

Bill Walsh was a system guy. He was an offensive genius who dominated the NFL with his West Coast offense, and he happened to find the perfect quarterback for his system in third-round draft pick Joe Montana. Montana was very accurate and incredibly smart, and he played the quarterback position flawlessly in this system. Of course the 49ers were loaded with talent on offense, but the natural relationship between Walsh and Montana set a standard that would be copied over and over again in the NFL. Look at Aaron Rodgers today, and you see flashes on what Walsh and Montana created thirty years ago. Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have forged a great relationship following the Brett Favre drama in Green Bay.

Of course there are exceptions that help prove the rule. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw never got along, but they managed to ride one of the best defenses in history plus a great running game to four Super Bowls, and Bradshaw thrived under pressure despite his frosty relationship with Noll. Bill Parcells was notorious for riding Phil Simms, and they had great success as well.

But there’s no doubt that the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback is usually a critical component to sustained success in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how young quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford grow with their head coaches.

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Should Dolphins be miffed that Parcells recommended Ryan to Jets?

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan looks on while his team plays the New England Patriots during their AFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Foxborough, January 16, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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?

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