Bill Parcells, left, and New York Jets owner Leon Hess pose with a Jets helmet at the Jets training camp in Hemstead, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1997, after Parcells was named head coach and chief football operations officer of the New York Jets.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The New York Jets moment of the day recounts the 1997 offseason when Leon Hess caught a Big Tuna, head coach Bill Parcells.

“And with that, Bill Parcells, please take over.” Those were the words Leon Hess used when introducing Bill Parcells as the head coach of the New York Jets during the 1997 offseason.

Bill Belichick stepped down as temporary head coach and Parcells—a man who had just helped save the Patriots’ New England existence—took charge. In classic Parcells fashion, he immediately paid dividends.

The Big Tuna led the Jets to a surprising 9-7 record in his first year after the organization finished a combined 4-28 over the previous two seasons with Rich Kotite at the helm. Every Jets fan knows how close Parcells’ Jets came in 1998, but in the end, it was not to be.

Craziness ensued after the Curtis Martin touchdown that made it 10-0 in Denver (courtesy of a Blake Spence punt block) and Vinny Testaverde‘s Achilles’ did not cooperate in 1999. Even more painful is how Parcells stepped down for Belichick—the very same man who walked away to the same organization who lost Parcells to the Jets.

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Of course, hiring Tuna did not come cheap. After hiring Parcels in an “advisory” role, Robert Kraft threatened legal action. Then-NFL commissioner Roger Tagliabue ultimately brokered a deal that would allow Parcells to coach the Jets (allow him to get out of his existing New England contract) that cost the team an immediate third and fourth-round pick, a second-rounder the following year and a first-rounder the year after that.

That offseason, NFL Films’ yearly review of the team focused on the upcoming 1997 campaign rather than its painful 1-15 season in 1996. Bill Parcells, always the talker, provided tremendous soundbites and clear expectations for what he expected out of his New York Jets players.


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