The Coach

Will He Take The Cowboys To The Super Bowl?

The National Football League season begins this week, and already one coach has received more attention than many entire teams.

Bill Parcells is back!

He's been called combative, caustic, comedic and cruel. And he's also been called the best coach in the NFL.

Parcells turns losers into winners, and he'll try to do it this season with the Dallas Cowboys.

When Correspondent Mike Wallace interviewed him three years ago, it was his last season coaching the New York Jets. And at that time, he said he was hooked on what he called "the narcotic of winning."


Parcells once said that winning the Super Bowl was better than sex.

“That's the way you feel, because that's a euphoria that is difficult to describe to anybody. It's quite a feeling,” he says.

Parcells prowls the field with a relentless intensity, using pressure to motivate because he believes pressure is the one thing everyone responds to. So he keeps the pressure on - on his team, on the officials, and on his coaches.

But most of all, he keeps the pressure on himself – 14-hour days, six days a week. And on the seventh day he rests … a mere 12 hours.

Does he really need to work 14-hour days?

“Yes, sir. Maybe more. If you want to stay competitive, this is one of the most competitive businesses there is,” he says. “It's my life. It's my blood. It's how I'm measured.”

The press has called him the best coach in the NFL - and that he’s quick-tempered, mean, nasty, stubborn, domineering, overbearing and imperious.

“Overbearing? Yes, a little bit. Stubborn? Well, you know,” he tells Wallace, agreeing that he’s quick tempered as well. “Mean? Malicious? Nasty? No. No. Never.”


Parcells grew up in New Jersey, where he could signal a touchdown before he could walk. When he was five, a bigger kid beat him up for the first time. It’s a beating he still remembers.

“My Dad came home. Asked me what happened. I told him. He said, ‘Well you gotta go back out there tomorrow,’” recalls Parcells.

Did he get beat up again? “No, not that day,” he says.

His Dad's advice, that you’ve got to go back out there tomorrow, is a rule he still lives by. Young Bill was a good athlete, not a great one, but he loved sports and says he first thought about coaching in high school.

He coached at seven colleges before becoming an assistant in the pros. When finally he was going to be named head coach of the New York Giants, he couldn't wait to tell his mother.

“I had an Italian mother. She didn't view what I was doing as really a profession. She viewed it as recreation,” says Parcells. “I said, ‘Gee Mom, I'm going to be the head coach of the New York Giants.’ And she said to me, ‘When are you going to get a real job like your brother the banker?’"

He told his mom that it might turn out to be a little more than she thinks. And in reality, it turned out to be more than anyone believed.

Parcells turned the Giants from chumps into champs. One of Parcells' former quarterbacks, Jeff Hostettler, said he was a great coach, but that he didn’t enjoy one minute of his time with him.

“That's all right,” says Parcells. “All he had to do was play quarterback.”

Parcells left the Giants because he wanted more control in picking the players. Then he led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl and left them too when he couldn't get the control he wanted.

With the Jets, he had total control.


But that hasn’t stopped him from raising hell with the press. This was his response after a victory when a reporter asked him if he had out-coached the opposing coach: “Aw, gimme a break with that stu ... dumb ass question. That's a dumb-ass question. You gimme a break with that crap. Aw, you don't know what you're talking about. You're a jerk."

In defense, Parcells says: “Well, he's asking me is to talk in a detrimental way about someone who's in my profession. And I don't want to do that.”

He also accepts no excuses from his players: "Cut it up in there or I'll get me another ... I don't really give a sh .... yeah that's right ... that's what you're going to be doing Sunday when we go to Seattle ... you'll be watching the game in New York on TV..."

And about the pain, he said it in his book: “We have this expression, 'Don't tell me about the pain, show me the baby.'"

What does that mean in the context of football? “You know, let's get the job done here. I don't want to hear about the process,” says Parcells.

Was he ever satisfied? Wallace asked Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

“I have to laugh because he's never satisfied, you know,” says Testaverde. “You just need to keep getting better and better, and I think when it's over, that's when he's satisfied. But until then, no.”

Bryan Cox, a defensive leader who played for Parcells, told 60 Minutes that Parcells manages to find a personal way to motivate each player. He put a gas can in Cox's locker with a note asking: "Is there any gas left in your tank?"

“And he wanted to know if I was out of gas last year,” says Cox, laughing. “I'm not that old … he was very serious. I mean, he’s the biggest jokester on the team.”

Most of his players, like star receiver Keyshawn Johnson, are devoted to him, even though Parcells is a nagging perfectionist.

In fact, one former player said, "If Parcells were named King of the World on Sunday, he'd be miserable by Tuesday."

“Well, I don't think he's happy unless he's mad, you know,” says Johnson.

“Have you ever met people that like to be miserable? He's one of those people,” adds Cox. "He likes to be miserable.”


No one knows that better than his then-wife Judy Parcells, who had been married to him for almost 40 years.

Judy told Wallace that Parcells is “miserable, anxious, exasperated and depressed” during the entire season.

“Well, first of all, and this is no disrespect to my wife Judy, because she's been in this for a long time,” says Parcells. “Judy doesn't know whether the ball is blown up or stuffed with feathers, OK? But right now, she'd be accurate in her assessment.”

At one point in time, she had three girls to take care of who didn’t know their father as well as they might’ve liked to. “I would say, retrospectively, that’s something I’m not, I don’t feel that good about myself about,” admits Parcells. “They turned out OK.”

But how hard was he really to live with during the season?

“It's tough. He kinda shuts everyone out. Not on purpose,” says Judy. “But I understand that his mind is always on football and I just, I try to leave him alone and not put any pressures on him during the season.”

And football has made Parcells a wealthy man. He made $2.5 million a year to coach the Jets, more than $4 million to coach the Cowboys, and another $1.5 million a year from commercials.

“My first job was $1,000 a month for three months,” says Parcells. Where? As a coach at Hastings College in Nebraska.


After winning his second Super Bowl, Parcells had heart bypass surgery, brought on in part by the stress of his job.

“I went to Temple University to have the bypass. And I was on the stretcher being wheeled down to the pre-op room, going in for my surgery. And there was this young black intern that had played football at Temple that was wheeling me down there,” recalls Parcells.

“He said to me, ‘Coach, could you sign this? Could you sign this for me?’ So I looked at him and I said, ‘You know, you're just going to sell this for a lot if I don't come out of here aren't you?’ You know, he said to me, he says, ‘I'll be there when you get out.’ And you know, the very next day he was there.”

After surgery, he stopped smoking. Now he says he eats less, drinks less, exercises more -- and that he has almost mellowed.

Watch the concern he shows for a player who had just thrown up: "Barnes got a little flu? He all right? Tell him to throw up on his own time."

If he had a son, would he want him to be a football coach?

“Nope,” says Parcells. “Not a game for well-adjusted people. I'd rather him be a little better adjusted than that.”

He calls himself a narrow guy. “My entire life has been spent thinking about this game,” he says. “That’s pretty narrow … I don’t view myself as a person who's well-versed in very many subjects. I'm not proud of that.”

But he’s proud of his coaching, and so drawn to it that he's taking over another losing team -- despite what losing has done to him. This is what he once said about losing: "It rips you up, it kills you. It takes too much out of you. There is winning and there is misery."

“You take it personally. You feel like a failure,” says Parcells. “No matter how much you've won, no matter how many games, no matter how many championships, no matter how many Super Bowls, you're not winning now, so you stink.”

Now, Parcells is smelling like a rose. His four-year deal in Dallas will pay him more than $17 million. He and Judy have divorced and they remain good friends.