Bill Parcells Pays Kind Tribute to Friend and Adviser Al Davis

October 12, 2011 – 10:30 am by Michael Bean

In today’s fast paced news cycle, folks have largely moved on from the passing of Al Davis this past Saturday. But on Tuesday, Bill Parcells took some time to reminisce about the man he had a long and wonderful relationship for nearly half a century.

Parcells joined ESPN Radio in New York to talk about his relationship with Raiders owner Al Davis, how he and Davis used to sit in the same place next to each other each year at the Scouting Combine, how Davis’ mantra of personal accountability was something he carried with him throughout his professional life, the detractors and enemies that Davis seemingly accumulated over the years, Davis’ pure love of all things football, how too many younger fans only know Davis for his shortcomings late in his life, the struggles of the New York Jets and what he makes of Mark Sanchez as a young quarterback.

On his relationship with Al Davis:

“Without question. I met Al coincidentally right at the end of his first season as the coach of the Raiders, which was 1963. And it was the end ‘ 63 which was my senior year in college, there was a all-star game in Texas that I was asked to play in, and he happened to be the coach of our team. Coincidentally, Max Snell, the Jets fullback of some notoriety, was on the team with us, and that’s where I first met Al. We spent some time at night in the hotel lobby talking, and it really was the beginning of a 48-year friendship. He was just great to me, and why we hit it off, we did, and I think he maybe gained a sense that I liked football as much as he did. And that was kind of the key common denominator that we always had, and we wound up spending an awful lot of time together. Thousands of hours.”

On the stories of how he and Davis used to sit next to each other in the same spot at each year’s Scouting Combine:

“That’s absolutely correct. Ron Wolf and myself, we would sit right at the start of the 40-yard dash. And we could see visually, we were very close to the players, so you got a good look at their physical make up, the size of their hands, you know, whether they were nervous or not, you got a little idea about their quickness as they burst off the line in the 40-yard sprint. Year after year, that’s exactly right, we would sit there all day long. And coincidentally, we would talk about football players and baseball in New York City and all sorts of things. He was just a great guy and also a very important adviser to me at critical times in my coaching career.”

How Davis’ mantra of personal accountability was something he took with him throughout his Hall of Fame coaching career:

“You know, there was a time early in my career when job security was certainly in question, and I think he was the one who got me really back on track in terms of being able to give me a general manager’s point of view as well as an owner’s point of view. And also he was very adamant about me about just doing your job — ‘Just do the job that they hired you to do, and don’t be distracted by other things around you that you have no control over.’ And you know, it kind of put me back on track — and just in the nick of time by the way — and it was something that I tried to pass forward to all the guys I worked with. Just do your job — players and coaches — and quit worrying about what other people are doing. Just get yours done. And if you’ve got a good team concept, eventually it will come together.”

On all the detractors and enemies that Davis accumulated over the years:

“Let me tell you — I found him to be a very benevolent…I’m going to use some words that the public would not readily attach to Al Davis, but I found him to be a very benevolent and a very caring human being. And also one. — and I can only tell you on the dealings I had with him — but his word was absolutely good for the entire time that I knew him. I can’t really say that about everybody that I know.”

Whether he ever came close to being the Raiders coach:

“You know, one time he inquired about that. And I said ‘you know Coach, that might be the end of a real nice friendship.’ I said ‘we’d be like Grumpy Old Men, Water Matthau and Jack Lemmon.’ He started laughing, so I said ‘why don’t we pass on that right now.’ And he said ‘okay.’ And we did.”

How sad is he that so many fans only know Davis for his mismanagement of the team in the final years of his life:

“You know, when I was with Miami, we played the Raiders, and the Raiders came down. And Al was on a walker, he could hardly walk, and I went over to the visiting owners box prior to the game and he had kind of settled in up there. And I was able to sit with him and talk for maybe 30 or 40 minutes. And my last dealings with him — I’m not trying to get sentimental, this is actually what happened — I get up, and I don’t know why, but I just kissed him on the cheek. And I said ‘I’ll see you later.’ And he said ‘thank you.’ And that was the last words that we ever spoke in person together.”

If he’s surprised by the Jets 2-3 start to the 2011 season:

“I am somewhat surprised, but I think you’d have to put five or six other teams in the category of surprising as well. I’m surprised, quite frankly, to see how Buffalo is doing so well, and Washington’s doing well, and Detroit’s off to a dynamic start as well. So those are things I didn’t really expect to see quite as vividly as we have.”

What’s his take on the Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez:

“He’s in his third year, he’s a developing player just like all young quarterbacks, and there’s going to be some good and some not so good. But the good thing about Sanchez is he’s acquired an awful lot of big-game experience in his short time in the league. And I think that will serve him well. You know, before you can drive a Ford, you’ve got to be able to drive a Cadillac. So if they get everything good around him, I think it will good well. Right now, I don’t think he can take the team completely on his shoulders.”

If there was any one aspect about Davis’ long career in professional football that he felt was his strongest suit:

“I think it was his complete well-roundedness in all aspects of the game. I mean, he was a scout, he was a coach, he was a GM, he was an owner, he was a commissioner — it’s the whole deal.”

Listen here to Parcells with Mike Lupica on ESPN Radio New York

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  1. 4 Responses to “Bill Parcells Pays Kind Tribute to Friend and Adviser Al Davis”

  2. Half a decade is probably a long time to the 11 year old girl who wrote this article, but I am pretty sure she meant half a century.

    By Marc on Oct 12, 2011

  3. lol marc. you are a donk. nice understanding of someone who’s just transcribed a 20 minute interview. typo. piss off shitbag.

    By Michael Bean on Oct 12, 2011

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