A Dallas Cowboys assistant would often call his boss, Bill Parcells, the FHB — Failed Human Being. Yet in the same sentence this same assistant coach said he would follow that same man to any job anywhere.
Parcells could be a selfish, egocentric pain, but he never lost the quality of having those in his general vicinity desperately wanting to be liked by him even if they did not like him.
One former player who did not like Parcells in his tenure with the team told me recently that he wished the coach had not retired after 2006. While he did not like Parcells, he respected the man because he knew that the man knew what he was doing.
His tenure as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys ultimately was not successful because he never won a playoff game, but the franchise, his assistants, his players and everyone up to and including the members of the media who knew him were better off because of him.
On Saturday, he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame largely because of his success with the New York Giants, with whom he won two Super Bowls. The bigger impact he made was the indelible impression on the people he met.
I enjoyed the man tremendously; having the chance to talk to him so frequently was a genuine pleasure.
A Dallas Cowboys scout once told me that we in the media didn’t realize how lucky we were that we could pick his brain for 30 minutes a day.
Parcells, more than anything else, may be a massive figure in the arena of professional football, but he was as human as they come, often full of himself, garbage and contradictions.
If you could look past his flaws, which were bountiful, and take away his strengths, there was much to be gained.