The Tuna: Parcells Reunites With Belichick

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Bill Belichick was coming off a season where he was let go by the Cleveland Browns.  The then 43-year-old former Bill Parcells assistant was looking for work and he wasn’t sure where that would come from. , Parcells and his former defensive coordinator with the Giants reunited in Foxboro.  After going 37-45 during five seasons in Cleveland, Belichick was fired as the head football coach of the Cleveland Browns.  The following day, Parcells hired Belichick as an assistant head coach. 

Photo courtesy of dailysnark.com

Art Modell, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, the same owner who moved the Browns out of Cleveland, fired Belichick and did not name a replacement.  The Browns finished 5-11 in Belichick’s final year with the team losing their last eight games.  It would be Cleveland’s fourth losing season in five years with Belichick at the helm.  While he had options outside of New England, Belichick would opt for a reunion with a man he once worked for in Parcells. 

The reunion would prove to be special for the Patriots because it allowed Parcells to introduce Belichick to the Kraft family.  Belichick would only spend one season in New England as an assistant, his short time in Foxboro would be a precursor to what we know today. 

Belichick took over as an assistant coach and joined Parcells to continue to change the culture in New England.  The Patriots over the last few seasons under Parcells had drafted players to build around franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe and continued to move the once basement-dwelling franchise into relevance. 

The Patriots began the 1996 season with the two Bill’s leading the team 0-2 with divisional losses to both the Dolphins and the Bills.  They then rallied and went 7-1 over the next nine weeks, (including the bye week), until a matchup against the Denver Broncos.  I remember that game vividly; I had season tickets that year.  Walking into the game my father and I were offer $1,000 for both our tickets to this Broncos game.  I declined, which in hindsight was stupid because the Patriots got their doors blown out.  This game in which the Patriots would lose 34-8 and was the infamous game where Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe would “call the President”. 

On the sidelines of the blowout game, Sharpe was seen on video grabbing a red phone mocking the Patriots saying, "Mr. President, send in the National Guard, please.  We need as many men as you can spare because we are killing the Patriots.  They need emergency help.  "Turning to the crowd, Sharpe shouted: "They're coming.  Help is on the way." 

Following the game, Parcells would use that video as motivation and his team would respond by winning the next six of seven.  Sharpe used comedy in that game to embarrass the Patriots at home in a video clip that will be an all-time burn.  The Patriots would have the last laugh, the Broncos would go 13-3 but would show nothing for it because it was the Patriots that would go to the Super Bowl that season and not Sharpe and the Broncos. 

Before heading to New Orleans to play in the Super Bowl against the Packers, the Patriots had a date at home in the AFC Championship against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  More than 60,000 fans filled Foxboro Stadium to watch the Patriots punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.  The Patriots won the game 20-6 and advanced to their second Super Bowl in team history.  Which would be one of the stories heading into the game, there would be another distraction on the horizon that would change the course of the Patriots, for a short period of time. 


Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The Tuna: Parcells Reunites With Belichick
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