INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It was worth a try, but Bill Parcells is keeping his Jacoby Brissett-related thoughts to himself.
We’ll get to that in a few minutes.
As the Indianapolis Colts unexpectedly find themselves transitioning from a franchise quarterback (Andrew Luck) to one with intriguing possibilities (Brissett), my mind flashed back to the final weeks of the 2017 season.
It flashed back to Bill Parcells.
As a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, I was gathering information on Edgerrin James. The Colts’ career rushing leader and one of the NFL’s elite running backs once again was among the Final 15 modern-era candidates.
With the help of Peyton Manning, I hooked up with Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan, Jon Gruden, Herm Edwards. And Bill Parcells. I believe my call caught him on the 5th hole at his favorite Florida golf course.
We talked about James’ worthiness for Hall of Fame consideration, then, unsolicited, Parcells steered the discussion in another direction. He remembered I mentioned I had covered the Colts for decades, and it struck a cord.
“You’ve got my guy playing quarterback out there,’’ Parcells offered. “Let me tell you something, you don’t worry about him. He’s as tough as it gets. That kid’s a soldier. They don’t come any tougher than him.’’
Again, that was back in December 2017, maybe January 2018. But Parcells’ affinity for Brissett, who started 15 games in ’17 as Luck was sidelined with his right shoulder issues, was clear.
“I love him,’’ Parcells said. “He’s like my own kid.’’
It seems a strange kinship.
Parcells, 78, is a two-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. His 183 victories are 11th-most in NFL history.
Brissett is 26 and heading into his fourth NFL season, his third in Indy.
The relationship can be traced to Brissett’s prep days.
“I’ve known him since he was 15,’’ Parcells told me.
Brissett would develop into a nationally-ranked quarterback at Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, Fla. Parcells spent his winters in Jupiter, about 20 miles away. The pro at the golf club he frequented was the father-in-law of Jack Daniels, Dwyer’s football coach.
“I am a football guy, so I like football, so I go around where football is,’’ Parcells told SI.com in 2016.
He saw something in Brissett, and followed his career, an arc that took Brissett from Dwyer to the University of Florida to North Carolina State to the New England Patriots to the Colts.
Parcells was – is – a sounding board, mentor, counsel.
During his first press conference as the Colts’ QB1, Brissett was asked whether he and Parcells had talked, and the gist of that conversation.
“Just ‘Good luck,’’’ he said. “We have conversations so much that it’s not like it’s anything different.’’
Did Parcells offer any advice on how to handle his new, pressurized role?
“No,’’ Brissett said.
I tried to reconnect with Parcells Wednesday, get his view on the seismic shift in things involving someone so close to him.
He was polite, but chose to keep his thoughts to himself. I was the latest to be rebuffed. Parcells told me more than a dozen media types had reached out to him seeking insight on Brissett in the aftermath of Luck’s retirement.
Parcells has turned away each one.
“I’m too emotionally attached,’’ he told me. “I’d just rather not.’’
That left me with the conversation we had in 2017, when it began with Edgerrin James and ended with Jacoby Brissett.
“He’s a great kid and he doesn’t have any issues,’’ Parcells said. “His personal life is good. He just wants to know what to do.’’
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