BELICHICK & PARCELLS: The Palace Intrigue that shaped Today's NFL

DURING A STAFF meeting in early 2000, Bill Parcells informed his underlings of the big transition. He left the room early to allow Bill Belichick to start acting like the new Jets head coach. Parcells’s former lieutenant provided his coaches with information about the upcoming Senior Bowl, and scheduled the next staff meeting.

Parcells soon gathered his players into Weeb Ewbank Hall's auditorium, used for team meetings and press conferences. Holding a microphone at the front of the room, he told the group that he no longer desired to be an NFL coach. Despite still possessing the requisite energy, Parcells lacked the commitment that he himself had always demanded from his players. He didn't want to fool himself, or anyone else, by returning to an all-consuming job. To more eloquently convey those feelings, Parcells concluded his resignation speech by reading Dale Winbrow's poem, The Man In the Glass.

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, mother or wife

Whose judgement upon you must pass

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,

For he’s with you clear to the end,

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test,

If the man in the glass is your friend.

With four lines left, Parcells's booming voice started cracking as his eyes welled up. But he read the poem’s final lines with power.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be headaches and tears,

If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Parcells released the microphone and stepped away from the stage. In previous emotional addresses Parcells had tried to fight off tears. But this time he cried unabashedly as he headed out of the auditorium, past some of his teary-eyed players. Walking out, Parcells felt a love from them as they remained in their seats. The players glanced at each other, uncertain of what to do or say. And for a few minutes, no one spoke at all.

DURING THE AFTERNOON, Parcells announced his resignation to the public, becoming the first head coach in franchise history to step down with a winning record: 30-20. He informed reporters that Bill Belichick would be empowered to make all football decisions, while he would stay on as a confidant and consultant. Although the contract language lacked preciseness regarding ultimate authority, Big Bill, still technically director of football operatinos at a $2.4 millino salary, vowed not to overshadow Belichick. Parcells insisted that New England's interest in Belichick was no factor in the development, although it certainly seemed to accelerate matters.

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DAVID STERN:talks Trump, Chris Paul trade, rips Bryant Gumbel and sings Sinatra

For audio and show notes, click "Read More" below; or first watch a highlight from the interview.

The NBA Commissioner Emeritus

  • recalls defeating Donald Trump in a tennis match, and declining requests for a rematch. (9:40 into the podcast)

  • critiques Hillary Clinton's campaign slogans, and deconstructs her team's marketing shortcomings. (17:05)

  • explains a "revolutionary" technology for basketball that he and Magic Johnson have invested millions in. (22:38)

  • expounds on his prediction of several NBA teams being based in Europe well before Elon Musk's vision of humans on Mars. (28:01)

  • offers free advice to ESPN's John Skipper and the NFL's Roger Goodell about recent issues affecting their organizations. (32:30)

  • recalls Nelson Mandela's secret -- and stunning -- visit to his hotel room in South Africa. (35:14).

  • deems Bryant Gumbel "an idiot" for once calling him a "modern plantation overseer."(1:05:30)

  • sings a Frank Sinatra tune before revealing that his biggest regret in life was spending little time with his two sons. (1:10:32)

  • takes us behind the scenes of the blockbuster trade he controversially overruled, preventing Chris Paul from joining Kobe Bryant's Lakers -- and perhaps drastically reshaping the NBA. (1:29:13)

  • explains why Jon Stewart is his favorite comedian, with John Oliver coming a close second (1:35:03)

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