NEW ORLEANS - If Bill Parcells can guide his 14-point underdog New England Patriots to an upset victory over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI on Sunday at the Superdome, he'll cut an even larger swath for himself in football history than the one he already occupies.
Parcells, who directed the New York Giants to titles in 1986 and 1990, would join Chuck Noll (four), Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs (three each) as the only coaches to win more than two Super Bowls. The other three are all in the Hall of Fame. Parcells, who just passed the late George Allen for 17th on the all-time victory list, seems intent on joining his predecessors in Canton.
Like Walsh, Parcells once walked away after a Super Bowl victory, but that was because of a heart condition that kept him in the broadcast booth for the next two seasons. Parcells, who threatened to bolt New York for Atlanta after the 1987 Super Bowl, may well leave the Patriots for the New York Jets next week because New England owner Bob Kraft won't give him control of personnel. And like Walsh, Parcells has
never backed away from the genius tag.
"Coach Parcells has said all year that all we have to do is get him here and he'd take it from here," said Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy.
Although the Patriots might have chafed at his demands and discipline - which assistant Dante Scarnecchia said they didn't accept until a year and a half into his tenure - they couldn't ignore his history.
"Maybe Bill's ego is big enough to take away from everybody else, but when you look at his track record, you don't mind doing the hard work, the tough work because you have a guy who has the rings saying, `This has worked for me. If you do what I tell you to do, I'll make you champions,' " said Pro Bowl offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong, the senior Patriot after 10 seasons in New England.
Parcells undeniably has done a great job with the Patriots, who had won just nine games in the three years before his 1993 arrival. Only five players remain from the team Parcells inherited. Fifteen starters have been added since New England's 1994 wild-card playoff loss. The defense has changed six starters since last season.
"Coming here four years ago, we weren't in very good shape," Parcells said. "But I didn't look at it like it was a monumental task. I looked at it as an opportunity to do the best I could at what I know how to do."
Which, first and foremost, is win football games. Parcells' teams have won 10 games or been in the playoffs in eight of his 12 NFL seasons. He entitled his 1995 motivational book "Finding a Way to Win. …