What's in a name? Just ask Bill.
From 1961 to 1978, five men named Bill coached seventeen seasons for six NFL franchises. During that time, Bills Johnson, Peterson, Arnsparger, Austin
and McPeak brought shame to their coaching name, amassing a combined record of 64-143, or an embarrassing 31% winning clip. To make matters worse, no
team coached by a Bill made the playoffs, and only two of those teams had winning records.
Then it happened. In 1978, Cincinnati fired Bill Johnson after the Bengals began the year 0-5. That off-season in 1979, Eddie DeBartolo hired Stanford
coach Bill Walsh to take over his struggling 49er franchise. In less than a year, the luck of the Bills had changed, seemingly forever.
No coach named Bill has failed to reach the Super Bowl at some point in his career since 1979. The Super Bills include Walsh, Parcells, Cowher,
Billick, Belichick and Callahan. Over the past twenty-six seasons, this elite coaching conglomerate has run up staggering regular and post-season
records of 536-380-3 (a 58% winning clip) and 42-23 (a 65% winning clip), respectively. And that's not even the good part.
A quick rundown of their Super Bowl performances follows in order of historical billing, naturally:
XXIII/1989 (W) 49ers 20, Bengals 16
XIX/1985 (W) 49ers 39, Miami 16
XVI/1982 (W) 49ers 26, Bengals 21
*XXXI/1997 (L) Packers 35, Patriots 21
XXV/1991 (W) Giants 20, Bills 19
XXI/1987 (W) Giants 39, Broncos 20
XXX/1996 (L) Cowboys 27, Steelers 17
XXV/2001 (W) Ravens 38, Giants 7
XXXVIII/2004 (W) Patriots 32, Panthers 29
*XXXVI/2002 (W) Patriots 20, Rams 17
XXXVII/2003 (L) Bucs 48, Raiders 21
XXVIII/1994 (L) Cowboys 30, Bills 13
XXVII/1993 (L) Cowboys 52, Bills 17
XXVI/1992 (L) Redskins 37, Bills 24
XXV/1991 (L) Giants 20, Bills 19
*Denotes Bill vs. Mike match-up.
~Denotes Bill vs. Bills confrontation.
>Denotes embarrassing professional football franchise.
An even closer look reveals that since Super Bowl XI in 1982, the Super Bills have appeared in 11 NFL title games, good for a 48% appearance rate.
Amazingly, they have won eight of their eleven Super Bowl appearances, or 73% of the time. Even more amazingly, a coach named Bill has won the Super
Bowl more than once in every three years, or 35% of the time, over the past two decades and change.
Who could forget how the Bills of Buffalo, led by 2nd-string wide receiver and spiritual leader Bill Brooks, reached four consecutive Super Bowls in
the early 90's? Bills have appeared prominently in the Super Bowl as either a team or a head coach in thirteen of the past twenty-three NFL title
games, good for a 57% appearance rate. And there is some overlapping - Bill Parcells, with the aide of defensive guru Bill Belichick, miraculously
bested his pluralist opposition in Super Bowl XXV. Many traumatized Buffalo fans blame Parcells himself as the root of the Bills' demise.
These eerie "coincidences" would even make the Super Bills themselves raise an eyebrow. Somehow though, it gets even weirder. Over the same
twenty-four-year period, Mikes Ditka, Holmgren, Shanahan and Martz have appeared in a not too shabby six Super Bowls, with four wins to speak of.
Adding to the confusion, Mike Holmgren's Pack killed Bill Parcells' Pats in Super Bowl XXXI. The Mikes held the early lead in the head-to-head series,
but the Bills were not to be denied. Five years later in Super Bowl XXXVI, Bill Belichick's Patriots avenged their coach's name by battering Mike
The mind-boggling doesn't stop there. While Mike Shanahan faced off against Mike Holmgren in Super Bowl XXXII, a Super Bill has never faced a member
of his coaching fraternity in the season finale. However, Bill Parcells' Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills must be recognized in a separate,
more elusive category.
The aforementioned facts add up to much more than a coincidence. Is it simple chance that the NFC wild card games feature Mike Martz's Rams against
Mike Holmgren's Seahawks and Mike Tice's Vikings against Mike Sherman's Packers? And is it dumb luck that Bill Belichick's 14-2 Patriots and Bill
Cowher's 15-1 Steelers are the early favorites to win it all in Super Bowl XXXIX? I think not.
So what exactly is in a name? Recent history argues that a Super Bowl bid awaits every man named Bill lucky enough to lead an NFL team. Perhaps the
Super Bowl would be more aptly named the "Super Bill." And just as every dollar bill bears the inscription "In God We Trust," for the love of God if
not the almighty dollar, it must be noted that "In Bill We Trust."
[Edited on 1/5/05 by deanchristopher]