Bill Parcells isn't the kind of man to admit many (if any) regrets publicly. The former New England Patriots coach may wear his New Jersey roots on his sleeve but not so his personal feelings.
That's why it was uncharacteristic for Big Tuna to admit that he left the Patriots after their forgettable Super Bowl XXXI loss after a power struggle with owner Robert Kraft and could only watch after his protege Bill Belichick took over — after a disappointing reign under Pete Carroll — and form an NFL dynasty which surpassed even Parcells' impressive accomplishments.
"I regret leaving New England. Had we done things differently ... " Parcells told USA Today. "I had a good young team there. I hated to leave that team, because I knew what we could do.
"I was absolutely too headstrong. And he might have been a little headstrong, too. I think both Kraft and myself, retrospectively, would have done things a little differently."
The Patriots have won three Super Bowls and reached two others under Belichick, who, without the New England job available, might have remained head coach of the New York Jets for more than a day before resigning and heading to Foxborough.
Parcells' surprising revelation that he left the Patriots — against his better judgement and after the Super Bowl loss to the Packers — never to reach the glorified status he had up until that point because Kraft wouldn't give Parcells final say on building the Patriots roster.
The well -respected Parcells would go on to good but not great seasons with the Jets and Cowboys before retiring. He won just one more playoff game and one more division title in seven post-Patriots seasons, both in 1998. That Jets team gave Denver a pretty good run in the AFC championship game but came up short and Parcells never living up to loftier expectations.
It's interesting to ponder whether the Patriots would have had a similar run over the last dozen years had Parcells stuck around longer? Or if Parcells would have even wanted to draft the mostly overlooked Tom Brady if he was in charge of the Patriots in 2000.
Parcells is a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach – he's being inducted this summer – but it's impossible to say if he could have achieved what Belichick has with the Patriots.
At least one person in this saga has regrets.