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The ESPN "30 For 30" series has a new entry that will be of special interest to New Englanders. It's called "The Two Bills," and it features former Patriots coach Bill Parcells and current Patriots coach Bill Belichick, sitting together for an unusually frank discussion. The two have a long, at times contentious history. "The Two Bills" director Ken Rodgers joins Chris Gasper (@cgasper) and Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) on "Season Ticket" to talk about this remarkable meeting of two football legends.
- Ken Rodgers (@kenrodgersNFL), Director, "The Two Bills"
On the logistics of getting Parcells and Belichick together in the same room:
Ken Rodgers: You know it's not like they said "Sure can you pick the date and we'll be there" ... So it was pretty much left as "Yeah, we'll let you know when," and that's it. And if I never followed up with NFL Films ... it never would have happened. We just had to keep saying "Hey what do you think about sometime this month? What about next month?"
We would scramble and Parcells was on a golf course and couldn't do it ... And then it just happened this last June. In May, Coach Belichick said "Hey, I'm going to be driving through New Jersey. See if Bill wants to meet me at the Meadowlands," and thankfully Parcells, after three years, had a free day where he wasn't playing golf or working with his horses, and we finally got it done.
On the coaches' possible reasons for participating:
Chad Finn: What do you think their individual motivation is for for doing this? Is it setting a legacy? Thinking about their own legacies? Is that setting the record straight on one thing or another? Is one of them trying to look like he's gracious? Why do you think Bill and Bill sat down to do this?
Ken Rodgers: I think (Belichick is) in the mode where he wants to make sure that people who helped him along the way get recognition. And it was amazing to me in the documentary sitting there in that room to see Bill Belichick really give credit to Parcells the way he did.
When it comes to Parcells, he's definitely in that phase of his life where football's in his past. It's part of his legacy. And I think he really is like a doting grandfather now where he's seeing branches of his tree succeed.
Chris Gasper: He's definitely mellowed.
Ken Rodgers: He's very mellow compared to what he used to be.
Chad Finn: I've never seen that person before.
Ken Rodgers: I think he's, you know, I don't want to speak for him, but it seemed to me like he was maybe aware of his mortality, and the fact that (his career in) football definitely is over this time.
"It was amazing to me in the documentary sitting there in that room to see Bill Belichick really give credit to Parcells the way he did."Ken Rodgers
On the coaches' relationship today:
Ken Rodgers: I'm not sure I have a read on it yet, honestly. And when I first asked Coach Belichick about doing this film, I told him "You know, one of the things I want to find out is what your relationship is - were you like big brother-little brother? Were you friends? Were you co-workers?" And I still remember he said to me "I don't think Bill and I could tell you what our relationship is." And I think that's complicated in the way that real life is. I can tell you, I can understand what their relationship is after seeing the film and making the film but I'm not sure I can explain it, if that makes sense.
On the documentary's appeal to fans:
Chris Gasper: I think one thing that Patriots fans will love about this documentary is, basically, the Jets get treated as a doormat here. (Belichick and Parcells) don't want to go in the Jets locker room, and I'd completely forgotten that Belichick was head coach of the Jets temporarily twice.
Ken Rodgers: You know it's funny. Giants fans are going to love this film. Patriots fans are going to love the film. Jets fans, I think, will think they love the film because they know they had Parcells for a while. But there are some painful moments in there when they realize that not once but twice Bill Belichick was their head coach and he never coached a game. It's easy to point to the resignation and say "Oh, that guy left us," but that explanation becomes much more reasonable as history goes on and you see that how important ownership, and how the stability of Robert Kraft compared to (the lack of) ownership in place ... at the time with the Jets.
"Giants fans are going to love this film. Patriots fans are going to love the film. Jets fans, I think, will think they love the film because they know they had Parcells for a while.."Ken Rodgers
NOTE: You can read Chad Finn's Q&A with "The Two Bills" director Ken Rodgers in The Boston Globe.