Bill Parcells is a builder. Not your typical builder as in building buildings. Parcells made a career out of building football teams. When he got his first coaching job with the New York Giants in 1983 his team wasn’t very good. He survived a 3 win season and it was there that he decided that if he could survive that experience he would coach on his terms. He wasn’t fired and he was able to use his agonizing experience as a building block. In most buildings you start with the basement. That is what Parcells started with. After finishing in the basement he went on building other floors to his football team until at long last he won two Super Bowls.
Parcells was asked if he thought that he should have a say in the players that were brought in for him to coach. Parcells in his matter of fact reaction said “Well if they expect you to cook the dinner you need to have a say in the grocery shopping.” Typical Parcells, a straight forward answer with a little comparison in there. It was a lot like how he grew up in New Jersey. His basketball coach in high school was complimenting him on what a great game he played. The team had lost a close game but Parcells made it close by his great play. “It wasn’t enough”, he told the coach, “we lost.” His coach always remembered him saying those words and then disappearing into the night. When Parcells eventually got into coaching winning and losing would be defined as Pat Riley once quoted. “There is winning and there is misery.
Curtis Martin was in the bathroom one time and had a talk with his coach Bill Parcell who just happened to be there. Martin had the admiration of his coach who affectionately nicknamed him”The Boy Wonder.” Parcells had earlier told Martin “I think you finally get it!” “Always remember that you will always be the hardest person on yourself.” As he was standing there washing his hands he looked in the mirror and Parcells was right behind him. It made a perfect picture in his mind of the thought he was just given. Parcells has a favorite poem and he has carried it with him since he was a teenager. It is a poem by an anonymous writer called “The Man In The Glass”
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
and the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
who judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts the most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass
Some people may think you a straight-shooting chum
and call you a wonderful guy
But the guy in the glass says you’re only a bum
if you can’t look him straight in the eye
He’s the fellow to please never mind all the rest
for he’s with you clear up to the end
And you’ve passed your most dangerous difficult test
if the man in the glass is your friend
You may fool the whole world down the pathway
of life and get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartaches and
tears if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
What was Parcells talking about when he told Martin that you finally get it? The “It” in Parcells mind was the team. Doing what is best for the team and not for your individual glory. Bill Parcells was hard on his team. He didn’t accept short cuts and sometimes for awhile members of his team didn’t like how he treated them.
Phi Simms was his Super Bowl winning quarterback. Phil was not the most talented quarterback in the league but he was sold on this team thing Parcell preached. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have confrontations on the sideline. One time they were having one of those confrontations and the TV cameras picked it up. The announcer mentioned that if you were just tuning in this team is leading 17-0. To Parcells the fact that his team was winning did not cancel out a teaching moment he needed to make.
Parcells agreed completely with a statement that Pat Riley made one time about winning and losing. “There is winning and there is misery.” That is the bottom line in coaching. Then again that competition is what kept Parcell going in coaching. He called it “the juice”. The juice is all about competition. Who are we playing next? That is the juice. Thinking about that next opponent and figuring out a way to beat them. There is a certain high that comes from a job like that which leads to admiration of the fans. The fans though can be fickle and when things are not going well they can turn like vultures. Parcells also refers to the juice from his growing up in Jersey. There it means overdue interest on borrowed money.
When Parcells had his heart surgery he was very thankful to the doctor who fixed him up. “When you are prepared for surgery your mortality goes through your mind I promise you”, he stated. After his surgery he was thinking of how to express his gratitude to his doctor but he just couldn’t find the words. Finally he said to his doctor, “Doctor I don’t know if it means anything to you to have gratitude but I want you to know that you have mine.” His doctor looked him right in the eyes and said “Certainly it does!”
In the movie “The City Slickers” Billy Chrystal encounters an old man and wants to know what life is all about. The old man tells him that you have to find the one thing that is most important as he raised his one finger. When Billy asked him what the one thing was the old timer only told him “It’s this and lifted his one finger again.” In his football coaching life Parcells was always looking for that one thing. Before his team won the Super Bowl he would tell a friend “I just want to win this thing one time.” After winning it was “I just want to win this thing one more time.” With each victory he still had issues with the juice. He knew that his profession was a double edged sword. He once told someone that in a year he would be in a resting home making ceramic ash trays and wondering what time Jeopardy comes on. Of course in a few minutes he would be talking about the future of the organization and how they needed to draft this position or get better in this area. That was the trap he was in. Deep down when he was out of football he wanted to be back in and when he was in he wanted to be out. His mother used to ask him “When are you going to get a real job?” She would look at others with traditional jobs and considered them the real jobs. It finally came to a point where Parcells was not apologetic about his profession.
For the people who really get to know him Bill Parcells legacy will be remembered in the number of lives he helped change. There was a homeless man in Fort Lauderdale who sold newspapers. Every day Parcells would see this man and buy a newspaper from him. Being an avid fan this homeless guy knew who Parcells was. They talked and developed a relationship. Being an avid Eagles fan he asked Parcells if he knew Andy Reid? Andy Reid was the General Manager of the Eagles. When Parcells said he did the fan said “tell him to draft a expletive wide receiver!” Parcells did call Reid and told him that he met one of his fans and the message he gave. One day Parcells was getting his morning paper and he asked the guy “why he couldn’t get a real job?” The guy looked at him and honestly said that he didn’t have a drivers license. Drilling deeper Parcells asked why and the answer was that he didn’t have a birth certificate. Parcells told him that maybe he could help him out so he made the appropriate phone calls and today this former homeless man is employed and much better off! Curtis Martin (The Boy Wonder) wrote his coach a wonderful letter one time about how thankful he was for his help and how he had made a monumental difference in his life. His letter mentioned that he didn’t know where he would be without Parcells guidance. When he went to Parcells office to give him the letter Parcells wasn’t there so he put it in a trophy on his desk. That letter is one his most meaningful possessions and Parcells cherishes it! With gratitude from his broken heart that is now repaired helping people on the way is what he considers the least he can do!
Parcells coached 4 teams and was a General Manager for another one. Each team held it’s own set of challenges in the building process. When he was hired to coach the Dallas Cowboys he had an established team that had parts he wasn’t used to. His philosophy with the Giants was to have bigger linebackers and this team had smaller ones with more speed. Parcells had to adjust his thinking to build with what he had. Although they didn’t reach the Super Bowl Parcells managed to leave the Cowboys in a much better state than how he found them. The same was true with all of his other stops. Building was his thing and he knew exactly what he wanted to get the job done!
Building things and being a part of a team were very important attributes of Bill Parcells. It is interesting that in the Bible Jesus talks about building too.
In Matthew 7 verses 24-27 Jesus said
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Perhaps you are in a profession like Bill Parcells where you feel like that there is winning and there is misery. Maybe you have been building your life on the here and now’s successes and failures. Take the words of Jesus seriously. Unless you build on the solid rock your buildings will crumble. You see everything on this earth is temporary including you and me. We might be very successful in what we do as far as money and adulation but can we truly look in the mirror and not be reminded that something is missing? We are and always will be empty without Jesus. When Bill Parcells had his heart problem he realized more than ever that life is short. Just like the Doctor who fixed his physical heart God wants to fix our Spiritual heart. He wants to take what we have and clean it up so that he can use us while we are here. You see he is the one thing (the one finger of the old man in the movie!) If we put him first in our life we will be happy and satisfied! A simple prayer will start that process. Pray this prayer with me!
Forgive me of my sins and save me
Come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior
If you prayed that prayer Jesus has come into your heart and your new construction has begun! You have hired a master builder and joined a team that is on its way to victory! As with any team there will still be plenty of highs and lows. You might find yourself in the basement of life, like Percells did with his football team. Know that God is now with you! You have employed the best head coach ever in the game of life. He is helping you build a life that is on solid ground and will not fall in the midst of storms. Like Parcells you will have gratitude knowing someone changed your heart as you desire to share your story . It will be a gratitude of love as you live in peace every day. That gratitude will be shared with others because it is the least you can do! Your reward will be great. Not like a building built on sinking sand that suddenly blows away, but a residence in heaven that lasts forever and ever!
God’s Hall of Fame
by Walt Huntley
Your name may not appear down here
In this world’s Hall of Fame,
In fact you may be so unknown
That no one knows your name;
The Oscars and the praise of men
May never come your way,
But don’t forget God has rewards
That he’ll hand out someday.
This Hall of Fame is only good
As long as time shall be;
But keep in mind, God’s Hall of Fame
Is for eternity;
To have your name inscribed up there
Is greater more by far
Than all the fame and all the praise
Of ev’ry man-made star.
This crowd on earth they soon forget
When you’re not up at the top,
They’ll cheer like mad until you fall
And then their praise will stop;
Not God, He never does forget,
And in His Hall of Fame,
By just believing on His Son,
Forever – there’s your name.
I tell you, friend, I wouldn’t trade
My name, however small,
That’s written there beyond the stars
In that celestial Hall,
For all the famous names on earth,
Or glory that they share;
I’d rather be an unknown here,
And have my name up there.
Strive to build your life to reach God’s Hall Of Fame and not on drifting dust!
On Drifting Dust
Now summer goes
And tomorrow’s snows
Will soon be deep,
And the sky of blue
Which summer knew
Sees shadows creep.
As the gleam tonight
Which is silver bright
Spans ghostly forms,
The winds rush by
With a warning cry
Of coming storms.
So the laurel fades
In the snow-swept glades
Of flying years,
And the dreams of youth
Find the bitter truth
Of pain and tears.
Through the cheering mass
Let the victors pass
To find fate’s thrust,
As tomorrow’s fame
Writes another name
On Drifting dust.