Parcells’ HOF waiting period would reset

Should longtime NFL coach Bill Parcells come out of retirement to lead the New Orleans Saints in 2012, as suggested by an ESPN report on Monday, a return to the game would delay his eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame executive director Steve Perry told The Sports Xchange on Monday that the five-year waiting period for eligibility into the Canton, Ohio, shrine would be negated by Parcells’ possible return. The five-year period mandated by Hall of Fame bylaws would not begin again until Parcells retired.

Essentially, the five-year waiting period would reset.

Might that be enough to dissuade Parcells from taking over the Saints and replacing Sean Payton for the 2012 season? Perhaps not. But this much is known: More so than in his previous occasions as a Hall of Fame finalist, Parcells was driven this year by the potential for enshrinement.

ESPN reported Monday that Payton had discussed with Parcells the possibility of coaching the Saints for 2012. Payton last week was suspended for the entire season by the league for his involvement in the "Bountygate" scandal. Payton once served as assistant head coach in Dallas when Parcells was the Cowboys’ head coach, and the two are close friends.

Parcells has denied the report.

One of 15 modern-day finalists in February, Parcells, 70, was not elected to the Hall of Fame. He survived the cutdown from 15 to 10 candidates, but not in the reduction from 10 to the final contingent of five modern-day finalists.

In the days preceding the Feb. 4 vote, friends and associates of Parcells made a strong effort to determine his viability as a candidate. Those associates stopped short of describing Parcells as being obsessed with entry into the Hall of Fame, but allowed he was more interested this year than in the past.

Parcells was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2001 and 2002, and, obviously, was not elected on either occasion. At the time, the five-year eligibility rule did not include coaches, only players. A coach, at that time, could retire and immediately be eligible for induction.

This year was the first in which Parcells was eligible under the revised rules.

Parcells coached four franchises during his long tenure on the sidelines, and retired as a coach following the 2006 season in Dallas.