Having exceeded his dream of merely "being part of the Giants' family and tradition" by coaching the team to its only two Super Bowl championships, Bill Parcells resigned Wednesday, declaring it was simply time for him to move on.
Parcells, 49, said he has no plans aside from resting and "catching some fish." The New Jersey native had a year left on a four-year contract that would have paid him $800,000 next season.
Parcells said he told General Manager George Young he wouldn't discuss a contract extension, to avoid speculation that money was an issue. He also said during a Giants Stadium news conference that he had taped a tryout with NBC as a color commentator but doesn't have a job with the television network.
Ray Handley, a former All-American running back and associate head coach at Stanford, replaces Parcells in time to direct a mini-camp for the Giants' veterans next week.
Handley, the linebacker coach on Stanford's 1972 Rose Bowl championship team, was the Giants' running back coach for seven seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator last spring. That move was made to keep Handley, 46, in line to succeed Parcells.
"It's without question the premier opportunity anyone could ever aspire to," said Handley, whose first big decision will be whether Phil Simms, who missed the NFL playoffs because of injuries, or Jeff Hostetler, who led the Giants to their second Super Bowl title in five years, will be the starting quarterback next season.
"I'm not looking to improve on what Bill has done--I'm just looking to emulate it," Handley said. "I'm in an enviable position, and perhaps (the pressure) enhances the challenge. I'm ready to charge right into it."
Parcells had a record of 85-52-1. The only Giant coach with more victories was Steve Owen, whose record was 151-100-17 from 1931-53.
"I feel like it's time. Players come and go, coaches come and go and recently owners come and go," Parcells said, referring to Timothy Mara's sale of 50% of the team to Robert Tisch. "I just think it's time. I have a feeling, and my instincts are usually good.
"I've given what I had for 10 years here to protect, construct and help this franchise grow. Don't confuse this with burning out, because I'm not burned out. I just don't feel I can give what I need to do the job and protect the franchise. The timing is never good, but you can't put a timetable on these decisions. You have to do what you think is right."
Parcells was hospitalized briefly last season because of a kidney stone but didn't miss any games. He said his health wasn't a factor in his decision.
Parcells' audition with NBC was March 23 at a studio in New York. He did commentary on a tape of last January's playoff game between the Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals. Don Criqui reportedly was the play-by-play announcer for the audition.
Terry O'Neil, executive producer of NBC Sports, said Wednesday: "We'd love to have him as an analyst. We think he could fit in as part of what we consider the deepest lineup of analysts in TV history.
"We anticipate speaking with Bill over the next couple of weeks to gauge his interest, but we will try to woo him and bring him to NBC. Bill is a bright and diverse individual, and we hope to be considered among his options."
O'Neil emphasized, though, that Bill Walsh is the network's No. 1 football analyst.
Regarding his audition, Parcells said: "I did it out of curiosity three months ago, not recently, as reported. There have been no discussions since then, no plans, no deals."
Going out after a championship was ideal, but he said he would have resigned even if Buffalo's Scott Norwood had made a 47-yard field-goal attempt on the last play of Super Bowl XXV in January instead of missing it and allowing the Giants to score a 20-19 victory over the Bills.
"After you've been in a place for a while, there comes a time to do something else," said Parcells, who denied rumors his relationship with Young had turned sour. "Don't read too much more into this than what I'm telling you. . . . I've given 10 years, some of my blood and a lot of my effort, but there have been so many rewards."
He listed among his richest rewards the Giants' victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the last NFC championship game, and their 1984 first-round playoff victory over the Rams, barely a year after they had stumbled to a 3-12-1 record in his first season.
The Rams also gave Parcells one of his greatest disappointments when they defeated the Giants in the 1989 playoffs. "I had a sneaking suspicion we might have been able to do something in the playoffs if we got by that game," he said.
Overall, he has few regrets about his tenure.
"My whole life has been Giants football for 10 years; I don't have any other hobbies," said Parcells, who was the Giants' defensive coordinator before replacing Ray Perkins in December 1982. "I have very, very strong feelings for the organization. . . .
"I'm going to miss (being) on the road in Washington, on the road in Philly. They hate me so much they almost like me. But you get that feeling inside you every once in a while that, 'Hey, it's time to move on.' I do so with nothing but good feelings."
Young said he respects Parcells' accomplishments and convictions enough not to try to change his mind. He hoped Parcells might stay but added: "None of us are irreplaceable."
Young also said he expects the Giants to continue on course despite changes in the team's ownership and coaching staff.
"We've been interested in Ray Handley as a person and as a coach for a while," Young said. "He's not the only one (qualified) on our staff, but you only have one pick and you have to go with your convictions, instincts, observations and things like that.
"I've felt very good about Ray Handley for a long time. We tried to do everything we could to make sure he stayed. . . . The effort was made to keep him as a coach because he's an excellent coach, excellent teacher and a very bright person. He has a lot of energy and great leadership qualities."
Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this story.
The record of Bill Parcells, who resigned Wednesday after eight seasons as head coach of the New York Giants: REGULAR SEASON
Year W L T Pct. 1983 3 12 1 .219 1984 9 7 0 .563 1985 10 6 0 .625 1986* 14 2 0 .875 1987 6 9 0 .400 1988 10 6 0 .625 1989* 12 4 0 .750 1990* 13 3 0 .813 Totals 77 49 1 .610
* won NFC East division
Year W L Pct. 1984 1 1 .500 1985 1 1 .500 1986** 3 0 1.000 1989 0 1 .000 1990** 3 0 1.000 Totals 8 3 .620
** won Super Bowl