This was a man who told his players not to worry about their respective contracts, that everything would work out — then he would put the squeeze on any of his employers for an extra buck.
He was notorious for refusing to do anything other than this own way.
When he cared, however, he cared tremendously.
Dick Hyslop is a retired American Airlines pilot who was the captain of the Dallas Cowboys team charters and who befriended Parcells.
“He’s pretty standoffish. There aren’t many people who get into that inner circle with him. His close friends were few and far between,” Hyslop said. “If you are in that inner circle, and I think I was there for a little while, there is nothing he wouldn’t do for you. Nothing.
“The thing that people didn’t always see was that he was always very humble and very gracious.”
Shortly after Cowboys rookie free agent safety Abe Elam made the roster in 2006, Parcells advised him to take one of the 17 paychecks he would receive during the season and to live on that.
Every other check should be saved. The next year, Elam was with the Jets. On his entry to Giants Stadium one Sunday, a security guard asked Elam if he was still living on one check and depositing the rest.
“Tell Parcells yes,” Elam said.
Comparisons have been made between Parcells and his former counterpart at West Point, college basketball coach Bob Knight. Don’t buy it.
Parcells might have shared domineering, perfection-driven characteristics with Knight, but this was a man who did not surround himself with a legion of sycophantic yes-men the way the latter did and still does. Parcells could take it whereas Knight simply could not.
As gruff, condescending and uncomfortable as he could be, he also oozed charisma and offered a level of common sense rooted in old-school values.