Though he's given few interviews over the last couple of years, Bill Parcells took part in a conference call for 30 minutes this morning to discuss his time with New England. On Friday, Parcells, Drew Bledsoe and Houston Antwine were announced as the three finalists for induction in the Patriots Hall of Fame this year.
Parcells said he was "flattered" to learn of his nomination, and also surprised by the news because he wasn't familiar with the way the Pats have begun selecting their Hall of Famers.
Off the top, he was asked for his memories of his time as head coach from 1993-96:
"I remember going there and in all honesty, the franchise was – I don’t want to say disarray, but it certainly was unsettled. Ownership was unsettled, there weren’t a lot of people going to games, the management of the team was unsettled. It was a big undertaking...but I do feel like when Robert Kraft took over the team that was a big step for the stability of the franchise.
"I don’t really think I had a whole lot to do with that but I think the one thing I would say that was helpful, we were able to put, during the course of my time there – Drew Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Curtis Martin, Adam Vinatieri, Terry Glenn – we were able to put those players on the team to go with (Ben) Coates and (Bruce) Armstrong and (Maurice) Hurst - that was the beginning of some personnel continuity and some of those kids have gone on to be some of the great players in Patriots history so I do take some pride in that."
Parcells acknowledged that he "stumbled" across Vinatieri and Brown, and that the team chose Bledsoe over Rick Mirer in part because Bledsoe was younger.
Some other highlights from the chat:
* Parcells said he's done in the NFL, but noted that he's made that statement before so reporters should "put it in pencil." However, he noted that he's almost 70, and is enjoying having his time to himself. "I think I'm going to leave the NFL to someone else."
* He said he regretted the way things went down with the Pats: "As you know, we had a couple domestic misunderstandings with ownership I do regret. Those things since have been resolved. I think retrospectively, I would have handled things different than I did. I was always saddened by the fact I had to leave there. In all honesty, I really didn't want to." He added that he and Kraft have patched things up.
* As for another of his relationships, with Bill Belichick, Parcells praised the work Belichick has done and the success he's enjoyed with New England. He also said the two, who own condos in the same Jupiter, Fla. building, are on good terms. "Just put him up there right at the top of the conversation with what he’s done. You can put his name up there with anybody that’s ever done it," he said when asked where he'd rank Belichick among the game's great coaches.