Mind of Sabol: Bill Parcells is “The Jock Whisperer”

Bethany Lowe, Dallas Cowboys, Mind of Sabol, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets

By Bethany Lowe

Editor’s Note: In this installment of “Mind of Sabol,” we will take a look at the career of one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, Bill Parcells.  Let us know what you think about Steve’s famous card catalog by leaving a comment below or tweeting @NFLFilms with #MindofSabol.

Whether a player or a coach, an executive or an analyst, Bill Parcells’ life has always revolved around football.

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 1987, file photo, New York Giants coach Bill Parcells is carried off the field after the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena, Ca. Parcells will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

New York Giants coach Bill Parcells is carried off the field after the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI.

Parcells is the only coach to lead four different teams to the playoffs including the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys. He wasn’t just handed winning teams.  Steve pointed out that he was a master of molding a losing team into a playoff team -or even a Super Bowl team- in the case of the Giants.parcells5

“Bill Parcells is the only coach in N.F.L. history to take four different teams to the playoffs, but that only begins to set him apart.” …  “The Cowboys had finished 5-11 three seasons in a row before Parcells arrived in 2003. His first year they were 10-6 and reached the playoffs. No N.F.L. coach has ever proven himself so clearly to be a device for turning a losing team into a winning one. And yet, even now, as he begins his 16th season as a head coach in the N.F.L., he lives the psychological equivalent of a hand-to-mouth existence.”

As Steve’s notes say below, “Others in NFL history have been better for longer with one team,” but Parcells’ ability to transform multiple teams is what sets him apart.


“Virtually all the great coaches in pro football have been primarily associated with a single team: George Halas of the Chicago Bears, Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers, and Tom Landry of the Cowboys. Parcells, though, has perfected a new paradigm for elite coaches: the tough-talking, fear engendering.”

Other than tough-talking and fear-engendering, what was the Parcells coaching style like? Steve calls Parcells the “Jock Whisperer.”


 “Bill Parcells is the Jock Whisperer. He can wound a player with one word then rebuild his image with the next.  NFL Films wired Coach Parcells 18 times during his career in games, meetings and practices. We captured many of those intimate moments between Bill and his players.”

Check out the video below to find out more about Parcells’ motivational tools and to see some of the moments NFL Films captured between Parcells and former Giants quarterback Phil Simms.



Simms explains in the video that Parcells was very “personal and honest” with his coaching style. Steve brought attention to the same characteristics in his notes below.


“Parcells has never fallen into the deadly coaching trap known as democracy. He doesn’t treat every player the same.” … “Buttons to push and mind games are the two phrases most commonly uttered about Parcells.”


“Total control over the entire Jets football operation. There’s one pope in Rome, 1 president in White House and 1 man in charge of Jets.” – Steve Sabol

Parcells was a talented leader and head coach for the Giants, Patriots, Cowboys, and Jets during his years as a coach. Parcells’ two Giants Super Bowl victories, combined with the success of former assistants, Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, and Tom Coughlin, makes for the most successful coaching tree in the NFL. The Parcells coaching tree has won nine out of the 49 Super Bowls.

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