Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Couples in Canton

As I wrote recently…of the twelve NFL head coaches elected to the Hall of Fame during the Super Bowl era, ten coached a Hall of Fame quarterback and one coached a guy who should be in the Hall and may yet make it(Ken Stabler). Only Joe Gibbs went to Canton alone.

In yesterday’s Monday Morning Quarterback, Peter King identifies 7 head coaches who will be Hall candidates in the coming years. Five of them – you guessed it – coached present or future Hall of Famer quarterbacks:

Mike Shanahan (John Elway)
Bill Belichick (Tom Brady)
Dan Reeves (John Elway)
Mike Holmgren (Brett Favre)
Tony Dungy (Peyton Manning)

The sixth is Marty Schottenheimer. Schott doesn’t strike me as a Hall of Famer, but he is sixth all time in Wins (and may not be done). Still, it’s hard to imagine him making it without a Super Bowl appearance.

The seventh is Bill Parcells. Parcells coached a bunch of good quarterbacks – Simms*, Bledsoe, Testaverde – and of course, started the “legend” of Tony Romo. But none are in the Hall.

* Simms may have made the Hall if he didn’t get hurt in the 12th game of the 1990 season. Assuming the Giants still won the Super Bowl that year, Simms would have 2 Super Bowls and 200 TD passes (he finished with 199). That, and the fact that the media likes him personally may have been enough to push him in.

Parcells vs. Gibbs would make an interesting debate. If we assume the five guys above make the Hall and Schottenheimer doesn’t, Parcells and Gibbs would be the only two Super Bowl era coaches in the Hall – out of 17 – who didn’t have a HoF quarterback. In fact, the two coaches won 5 Super Bowls with 5 different quarterbacks – Theismann, Simms, Williams*, Hostetler, and Rypien.

* Both Simms and Williams had days that Hall of Famers can only dream about

But who is better? Gibbs has 3 Super Bowls to Parcells’ 2. But Parcells took four teams from the pits to the top (or neat-top), a remarkable record. And that’s not counting what’s going on in Miami right now.

I'm inclined to give the nod to Parcells, because I think there is no greater proof of coaching ability than turning losers into winners multiple times. But then, I'm a biased Giants fan.

P.S. I learned something fun doing this: Jimmy "How 'bout them Cowboys!" Johnson isn't in the Hall of Fame (but this Jimmy Johnson is). I'll have to do a reverse on this someday - see how many quarterbacks made it in without a Hall of Fame coach. But the overrated Troy Aikman is one of them.

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