EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Bill Parcells couldn't answer the most obvious question yesterday when he walked away from the job he had dreamed about holding all his life: Why?
Why did he quit as coach of the New York Giants, the team he grew up following as a youngster in New Jersey and took to two Super Bowl victories?
"I just feel it's time to move on. It's hard for me to put it in any different words. Really, that's what it is," he said at a crowded news conference at Giants Stadium as he stepped down less than four months after winning his second Super Bowl. He was replaced by his offensive coordinator, Ray Handley, who had considered leaving the Giants for law school each of the past two years, but was talked out of it by Parcells.
Parcells, though, couldn't talk himself into staying, even though he didn't really come up with an answer for why he departed at age 49.
He ruled out burnout, money, health or reported problems with general manager George Young as factors in the decision. He had a television audition three months ago with NBC Sports, but said he has no deal with the network and said the possibility of going into television played no role in the decision.
"Players come and go. Coaches come and go. Recently, owners come and go. I just think it's time. That's all there is to it. There's absolutely no other reason. I have a feeling. My instincts are usually good. I have absolutely no plans, fellas. I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.
What is so mystifying about Parcells' decision is that he quit football once before in 1979, but was so unhappy that he came back to the game.
"This is a different deal. I've had some personal satisfaction that I didn't have at that point," he said.
When Parcells was asked whether the seven-days-a-week schedule wore him down, he said, "No, that's what I do. I'm a football coach. That's the schedule. That's the way it is these days. That's what you do. It's about competition. It's about winning. Unless you're willing to pay that price, you're not going to do very well in this league. You'd better be willing to pay that price."
Asked whether he no longer was willing to pay the price, he said: "I never looked at it that way. That's not why we're having that discussion today. I just feel like it's time to move on."
Notice that he said, "I'm a football coach."
Parcells is a guy who likes hanging around the locker room. It's hard to imagine him not coming back to the game eventually. He wouldn't rule out the possibility, saying, "I don't have a crystal ball."
Asked what he'd miss, Parcells said, "On the road in Washington and on the road in Philadelphia. They hate me so much there, they almost like me."
Handley now faces the challenge that George Seifert had in San Francisco in 1989 when he replaced Bill Walsh, who also stepped down after winning a Super Bowl -- trying to repeat in his first season. Seifert pulled it off, and now Handley faces the pressure of trying to do it.
Handley, 46, whom Parcells often referred to as his "computer" on the sidelines, is an advocate of hard-nose defense and a grind-it-out style, two things that have typified the Giants under Parcells and two things not likely to change soon.
Although Handley was an obscure assistant, he's no more obscure than Parcells was when Young tabbed him late in the 1982 season to replace Ray Perkins, who left to become head coach at Alabama.
Handley said: "If I can stand up here eight years from now and have the record that he's put on paper, I'd be much more than satisfied."