It’s a complicated one, to be sure. In these parts, Parcells will be remembered as the man who turned the franchise around, while Belichick will always be the guy who took it to unprecedented heights.
That, in my opinion, is how you can divide this argument. Belichick’s the better coach. Parcells is the better team architect/program builder. And before anyone gets all worked up over that opinion, let me emphasize that both are also good at the other skill, and obviously very good overall. If you want to call that a cop out, well, then that’s fair.
You can take Belichick the coach based on his success thwarting a couple of the game’s most historically prolific offenses (1990 Bills, 2001 Rams) in Super Bowls as a defensive mind; his ability to lift teams above their talent level; his record leading teams in the biggest games (even before the Super Bowls here, his defenses always performed big in big spots); and yes, the fact that Parcells won his two Super Bowl rings with Belichick as his defensive coordinator, and went to a third Super Bowl with him as assistant head coach. Plus, you’ll remember his Browns outmaneuvered Parcells’s Patriots in the 1994 playoffs.
On the other hand, Belichick learned to lead under the heavy hand of Parcells, and Parcells has the edge of having done it in multiple places. The Cowboys’ roster right now is loaded as it is in large part to Parcells’s rebuilding of that organization’s football operation, which was in shambles when he arrived. He’s now performing a similar refacing of of a Miami club that was stumbling along before he got there in 2008. You can also consider where the Jets and Patriots were before he arrived, and look at how he changed those franchises forever. Parcells’s legacy may well wind up being the ultimate franchise renovator.
Of course, the Patriots too owe Parcells for Belichick — if Tuna hadn’t hired Belichick in 1996, Patriots owner Robert Kraft wouldn’t have gotten to know Belichick like he did that year, and probably wouldn’t have hired him in 2000.
Anyway, it’s a fascinating argument that Tim’s raising over there. You can go and vote here — Belichick currently has 54 percent of the vote.