Head coach Bill Parcells had to wait a little bit longer than most expected him to be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His speech during Saturday night's enshrinement ceremony, clocked at just over 20 minutes, was worth the wait.
Parcells provided excellent insight into the inner workings of an NFL team, the locker room and even the support staff that assists, and wisely ignores, coaches on what he referred to a "Blue Mondays".
The legendary head coach of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys opened by explaining why he had chosen former Giants defensive end George Martin to present him for induction to the Hall of Fame. Parcells said that Martin was a co-captain of the Giants teams during the mid-1980s and, in that role, had duties to the team, the coaching staff and his fellow teammates, each of whom he looked out for and that was a primary reason for those teams and Parcells were successful.
Parcells also mentioned Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
"When they put my bust in the Hall tomorrow, I'd like to be somewhere near Lawrence Taylor so I can keep an eye on that sucker," Parcells said of Taylor, whose off-field partying habits were well-chronicled during and after his career.
One of the more interesting aspects of Parcells' speech was the insight he provided on what the general public doesn't get to see, and perhaps should, in an NFL locker room.
"After you've been there just a couple of days, you know what they are," Parcells said about the unwritten rules and regulations of an NFL locker room. "If someone should deviate and violate those rules, you find out that there's a judge and jury in that room. And they act decisively. And their decisions are final because we don't have too many appellate courts in there. So we've got the greater good, we've got accountability, and now we've got law and order.
"Now we've got a wide range of emotions in this place, ladies and gentlemen," Parcells said. "We've got happiness. We've got humor, practical jokes, hilarity...Success, achievement, and then we've got that momentary time of exhilaration when you hoist that championship trophy over your head and I don't know what happens, but some mystical blood kinship is formed. And although it's a fleeting moment, that kinship lasts for the rest of your life. And the thing I'm most proud of with my teams is they have it, and I know, I lived it, because whenever something goes wrong with one of them, all of the others run to help. And I know, because they've run to help me.
"Now, on the other side of that locker room, there's darkness. There's defeat. There's despondency. There's pain. You see those players carrying those IVs onto the aircraft after a mid-summer or early season game in a hot weather city and they're carrying their own IVs onto the plane and the trainers are rushing to pack 'em in ice. And they can't sit in their seats because they'll cramp up, so they got to lay in the aisle. Ladies and gentlemen, they don't put that on television, but I was there to see it," said Parcells.
"There's pain, there's injury, there's tragedy and even death and I wish all American society could have experienced what I experienced in this place, because ladies and gentlement, it is a priceless, priceless education."