American Football: Only parallels with 1991 favour Parcells

Can Super Bowl history repeat itself? Matt Tench reports from New Orleans

For dedicated students of the cyclical theory of sporting history, Bill Parcells makes an intriguing case study. The last time he was at the Super Bowl, six years ago with the New York Giants, he was leading the underdogs into what was widely believed to be his last game with the club. It is exactly the same this time.

Parcells' probable departure from the New England Patriots, after they have played the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, has dominated proceedings here, just as his imminent divorce from the Giants - he left a couple of months later - did in 1991. As he did then Parcells has attempted, without success, to play down the story. One report suggests that he has already signed for the New York Jets. Parcells simply says he will review his position after the Super Bowl.

His habit of guiding clubs to success, then leaving prematurely has drawn comparisons with Kenny Dalglish, but the analogy is only partially successful. If Dalglish's reasons for moving on have revolved around pressure, with Parcells the issue is power. He left the Giants because of frustration with the personnel decisions made by the team's autocratic general manager, George Young, and seemed to have gained the authority he sought when he joined the Patriots four years ago. But under a new owner, Robert Kraft, this appears to have been steadily eroded, a process emphasised by the choice of Terry Glenn, the wide receiver Kraft coveted, as the Patriots' first pick of last year's draft rather than the defensive player Parcells preferred.

When Parcells requested that a year be taken off his contract, making 1996 his last season, his departure was widely predicted, but as the Pats progressed to the Super Bowl, so the clamour to keep him grew. This week, however, it has been clear that Parcells and Kraft remain at odds over his responsibilities - there has also been talk of a personal rift - and it seems almost certain that Parcells will return to New York where the Jets are thought to have promised him complete control.

Known as a players' coach, many will miss him, but not it seems the most important one. Drew Bledsoe, the Patriots brilliant young quarterback, has suffered more than most from Parcells' unforgiving tongue, and there were detectable signs of relief as he reacted to this week's stories.

"I've known throughout the last four years that at some point in my career Bill is going to be gone," Bledsoe said. "Sometimes it's pretty enticing."

Bledsoe will have to play at his very best for the Pats to have any chance, with even Parcells acknowledging his side's status. When the Packers' Mike Holmgren claimed himself as the underdog head coach, because of his lack of Super Bowl experience, Parcells retorted: "I don't know about that. I know whose team is the underdog."

Overmatched in just about every area, the Patriots appear to have only one factor in their favour, the cyclical theory of history. Back in 1991, Parcells won.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there