Despite never returning a punt in his life, Bill Parcells is the expert on returning punts.
Last year, former Giant Phil McConkey was interviewed by Steve Sabol on NFL Network’s program NFL Presents. During this interview, McConkey talked about his former coach Bill Parcells’ penchant for punt returns. McConkey said, “Guy has not caught a punt in his F*****’ life but he is the absolute expert on it-believe me.” Parcells had a credo on catching punts. This credo was:
1. Sprint to the ball
2. Don’t drift
3. Get set
4 . Catch it
One of Parcells’ pet peeves was letting a punt hit the ground. According to McConkey, this was sacrilege. “It was against the law, punishable by beheading, if you let that ball hit the ground.” said McConkey. This ties into Parcells theory about hidden yardage. In this video, Parcells elaborates on how McConkey was an unsung hero in the 1986 NFC Championship game against the Washington Redskins. Because McConkey caught each punt, the Giants did not surrender field position. On the other hand, the Washington returner allowed the ball to hit the ground six times. Consequently, the Redskins conceded 112 yards in field position. Nonetheless, this was a difference maker. Speaking about field position, last year, do you remember punt return blunders made by Sinorice Moss? His poor choices of letting balls hit the ground, clearly, cost the Giants field position.
Finally, McConkey sums up why Parcells was such a successful head coach in the NFL. “The man absolutely refuses to accept excuses, said McConkey, “He will not tolerate them. He does not want anything to do with them. So as an athlete, a football player-if you know no excuses accepted, not tolerated, you get more out of yourself.”
It was Parcells’ way of getting the most out of each an every player on his roster. Guys who were backups like O.J. Anderson, Reyna Thompson, and Jeff Hostetler were able to step in as starters. And they contributed in a big way. Under Parcells’ leadership, this is why the Giants won two Vince Lombardi trophies.