The news conference to announce his return to football was more like a coronation, with Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts on hand and batteries of cameras clicking and whirring in a hotel ballroom scene that would be the envy of any New York news media crowd.
Parcells, who accepted the Patriots job on the same day the Giants were trying to complete a deal for Dan Reeves to become their new head coach, said that the Giants didn't contact him and that he didn't call them about the possibility of returning to his old job.
When reminded that polls taken in the New York area showed fans wanted his return to the Giants, he said: "I'm flattered that the fans of the Giants would have interest in Bill Parcells. I walked the streets of New Jersey and New York, and I know how the fans were."
Later, when asked why he had not applied for the Giants' vacancy, Parcells declined to give his reasons or to speculate why George Young, the team's general manager, had refused to offer the job. But Young has made no secret of his bitterness over the way Parcells left the Giants on the eve of an important minicamp, a move that helped throw the team into turmoil.
Although the Patriots will not play the Giants next season, Parcells will return to Giants Stadium when the Patriots take on the Jets.
With the Patriots, he inherits a team that tied for the league's worst record (2-14) last season after going 6-10 in 1991 and 1-15 in 1990.
The selling point? Parcells, who is 51, met last weekend at the Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., home of the Patriots' owner, James Busch Orthwein, where Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan also had applied for the job.
"We had discussions on how Jim said I envisioned bringing a competitive team to New England," Parcells said. "I told him I wasn't interested in being a competitive team. I wanted a championship team. That's the only goal a guy like me can have. I'm not interested in making a team competitive from week to week."
Orthwein agreed, and the Patriots appear to be on a different course with the most significant coaching move in their troubled history.
Those troubles include serious financial problems, a string of bad clubs and a home stadium in Foxboro, Mass., that does not return any revenue to the team except for ticket sales. The Patriots have no luxury-box revenue and none from conces
sions. Last season, they were said to have had the league's lowest income.
That didn't appear to concern Parcells, whose contract is estimated to be for five years and worth $5 million. There was no problem for him in leaving NBC, where he had a multiyear contract as an analyst. The network routinely allows its former coaches, such as Bill Walsh and Pat Riley, to return to the sidelines.
But what did concern Parcells was that he would be part of a management team, which he never was with the Giants, where Young ultimately makes the key personnel decisions. With the Patriots, Parcells reports only to the owner.
Parcells will share the decision-making on the draft and player selection with Patrick Forte, a former player agent and now the executive vice president for football operations. James R. Hausmann, executive vice
president for business operations and the other part of the management team, serves as Orthwein's financial eyes and ears.
Orthwein, a member of the Busch brewery family, is the retired head of one of the world's largest advertising agencies, D'Arcy McManus. Orthwein promised Parcells that he would be able to tell Forte what he wants and that Hausmann would then attempt to sign the players.
Parcells, saying that he was now part of a management team but stressing that "this wasn't about power," nevertheless made a telling point when asked about picking players:
"I think I have the most experience at this table in picking talent."
Orthwein said: "As far as who's going to pick whom, we haven't gone to the expense of picking Bill Parcells not to use his expertise."