Bill Parcells has had an accomplished NFL career as a coach and executive of many franchises, but his brief tenure as vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins consistently gets swept under the rug.
During a conference call discussing his upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Parcells acknowledged there were aspects of his Dolphins tenure he's not proud of, and one of them includes his departure.
"I had to be talked into coming there, and I didn't anticipate the ownership change," Parcells said, referring to Wayne H. Huizenga's sale of the team to present owner Steve Ross, which took place a year after Parcells was convinced to spurn an offer from the Atlanta Falcons and join a Dolphins team coming off a 1-15 season.
Parcells claims he got along well with both owners during his tenure as team czar, and mentioned that he still talks to Ross from time to time.
According to Parcells, what complicated the relationships within the organization's hierarchy was the fact he had three inexperienced individuals - a first-time head coach in Tony Sparano, a first-time General Manager in Jeff Ireland, and a first-time owner in Ross - jockeying for control.
"That's a difficult dynamic because everyone - and rightfully so - wants to put their own mark on their franchise, and they have every right to do that," Parcells said. "Personnel wise I know our team was better than when I got there."
Problem was the front office of the organization began to fall apart after the 2009 season, which featured quarterback Chad Henne leading Miami to a 7-9 record.
"I left very early in the third year (2010) and we had just beaten the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings on the road. The Packers wound up winning the Super Bowl that year, so there were some things in place," Parcells said. "But my leaving created a situation that was not good for the Dolphins retrospectively.
"I thought I was doing the right thing for the Dolphins to let these guys go, take [the franchise] on their own," Parcells continued. "But retrospectively, I don't think it was the right thing because I saw things happen that I would have made every effort to try to avoid."
Parcells is likely referring to the fractured relationship Sparano and Ireland carried into the 2011 season after Ross unsuccessfully courted Jim Harbaugh, who left Stanford to join the San Francisco 49ers that offseason.
Ross never fired Sparano, but forced him to make changes to his coaching staff. That season pitted the coaches against management, with the players caught in the middle.
As a result the Dolphins began the '11 season with a seven-game losing streak before rebounding to win six of the next nine games. However, management used a 26-10 loss to the Eagles as the perfect opportunity to fire Sparano, replacing him with interim coach Todd Bowles for the final three games.
That offseason Ross decided to retain Ireland as his General Manager and Miami hired head coach Joe Philbin, who produced a 7-9 record last season.
Following a massive franchise makeover all that remains of the Parcells era is Ireland and a few executives, and a handful of draft picks (Brian Hartline, Chris Clemons, Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, John Jerry, Nolan Carroll, Reshad Jones and Austin Spitler), signees and waiver wire claims (Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Richie Incognito, Dan Carpenter and Nate Garner) from his days with the organization.
How would Parcells summarize the Dolphins chapter of his NFL career, which is highlighted by the franchise's last winning season, the 2008 campaign where Miami went 11-5 and won the AFC East division title?
"I think the personnel was definitely better," he said. "But I can't prove it to you."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun