NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bill Parcells was a winner everywhere he coached. Time and time again, he took over struggling franchises and showed them what it takes to be a success, including a pair of Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants.
Parcells pulled off another victory Saturday — election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Getting in on his fourth try, Parcells led an induction class that also included mouthy defensive lineman Warren Sapp, prolific receiver Cris Carter and a pair of stalwarts from the trenches, offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen.
The class of 2013 also included a pair of senior selections, Curley Culp and Dave Robinson. The announcement was made in New Orleans, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Almost as noteworthy were the finalists who didn’t get in, including running back Jerome Bettis and owners Art Modell and Edward DeBartolo Jr. Players and coaches from the Baltimore Ravens, who will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, spent all week lobbying for Modell, their former owner who died last year, to claim a place in the hall.
It didn’t work out, no doubt pleasing fans in Cleveland who remain bitter about Modell moving the original Browns to Baltimore.
Parcells had to wait a while, earning a bust in Canton on his fourth try. He thought he might get in the previous year in tandem with one of his former players, Curtis Martin.
‘‘It was a little less stressful than last year,’’ Parcells said in a telephone interview from Florida. ‘‘I was kind of hoping we could do it together, but as fate would have it, it didn’t work out.’’
Giants president and CEO John Mara said Parcells’ selection for the hall was ‘‘long overdue,’’ but his candidacy stirred plenty of debate — a one-hour discussion among the selection committee members, by far the longest amount of time dedicated to any finalist.
‘‘He’s one of the best coaches in NFL history,’’ Mara said. ‘‘He turned our franchise around. We went through a long period in the 1960’s and 70’s when we were a laughingstock. When Bill took over in 1983, he survived a very difficult first year, but then turned us into a perennial playoff contender and won two Super Bowls for us. He coached three other teams and everywhere he went, he had great success.’’
No one was more emotional than Carter, who took six years to get in despite putting up some of the best receiving numbers in NFL history. He broke down in tears but quickly pointed out ‘‘it’s not because I'm sad.’’
‘‘This is the happiest day of my life,’’ he said. ‘‘When people said, ‘Aw, you know, it really doesn’t matter, you’re a Hall of Famer in my eyes,’ I said, ‘It’s more important that I'm a Hall of Famer in the Hall’s eyes.’ And I really, really wanted this. ‘‘
Sapp said his stomach was churning all day.
He doesn’t have to fret anymore. Next stop, Canton.
‘‘My feet haven’t touched the ground in about 30 minutes,’’ Sapp said. ‘‘This is unbelievable.’’
In addition to Bettis, four other players failed to get in on the final vote: Charles Haley, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams. Earlier in the day, the selection committee eliminated DeBartolo and Modell, as well as ex-players Tim Brown, Kevin Greene and Will Shields.
Parcells reversed the fortunes of four teams, also coaching the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, during 19 years as a head coach. He finished with a record of 172-130-1, most notably leading the Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991. He led the Patriots to the Super Bowl after the 1996 season.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft saluted Parcells’ election.
‘‘It is well deserved,’’ he said in a statement released by the team. ‘‘As a Patriots fan, I will always appreciate the credibility he brought to our franchise as a two-time Super Bowl champion. We had never had a head coach with those credentials. I am very happy for Bill and look forward to his enshrinement ceremonies.’’
Jets owner Woody Johnson echoed Kraft.
‘‘Bill Parcells infused new life into this franchise on many levels,’’ he said. ‘‘From acquiring players like Curtis Martin to bringing back a winning culture, we will always be grateful to Bill for his contributions to the New York Jets.’’
Sapp got in on his first year of eligibility after playing 13 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. He amassed 96½ career sacks despite playing on the interior of the defensive line, including double-digit sack totals in four seasons. He was the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year after helping Tampa Bay claim its first division title in 18 years.Continued...