Bill Parcells 11 Commandments of Being a Quarterback (or leader in any field)

To jump on yesterday’s Bill Parcells article, here is Parcell’s commandments on what is takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. You can easily take this list and translate to any leadership job.

Quarterback commandments:

1. Ignore other opinions – Press or TV, agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers on – ignore them on matters of football, they don’t know what’s happening here.

(Translation: Don’t take advice from someone who doesn’t understand the job you’re a part of or doing. That’s like an actor getting advice from their father who was an accountant. You can’t give him advice and he can’t give you advice.)

2. Clowns can’t run a huddle – don’t forget to have fun but don’t be the class clown. Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.

(Translation: Act so people respect you. No one ever looked up to the funny kid in grade school, no matter how funny he was)

3. Fat QBs can’t avoid the rush – A quarterback throws with his legs more than his arm. Squat and run.

(Translation: Make sure you don’t look like a slob.)

4. Know your job cold – this is not a game without errors. Keep yours to a minimum. Study.

(Translation: Discpline and hard work = success. Don’t be lazy.)

5. Know your own players – Who’s fast? Who can catch? Who needs encouragement? Be precise. Know your opponent.

(Translation: Understand everyone’s job, plus your own. Sign of a true leader.)

6. Be the same guy every day – in condition. Preparing to lead. Studying your plan. A coach can’t prepare you for every eventuality. Prepare yourself and remember, impulse decisions usually equal mistakes.

(Translation: Don’t be inconsistant. No one respects someone who is up one day and down the next.)

7. Throwing the ball away is a good play – sacks, interceptions and fumbles are bad plays. Protect against those.

(Translation: Know when to take chances. You risk too much and you lose.)

8. Learn to manage the game – personnel, play call, motions, ball handling, proper reads, accurate throws, play fakes. Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.

(Translation: Whatever road you choose to journey down, make sure you know how to get there in the best possible way. Make sure your followers have trust when they walk behind you – or else they are gone!)

9. Get your team in the end zone – passing stats and TD passes are not how you’re going to be judged. Your job is to get your team in the end zone and that is how you will be judged.

(Translation: You better succeed or else what you say or do doesn’t matter.)

10. Don’t panic – when all around you is in chaos, you must be the hand that steers the ship. If you have a panic button so will everyone else. Our ship can’t have a panic button.

(Translation: You’re going to have good days and bad days. Be the same person on both days and control your emotions.)

11. Don’t be a celebrity QB – we don’t need any of those. We need battlefield commanders that are willing to fight it out, every day, every week and every season and lead their team to win after.

(Translation: Understand why you are doing your job. It needs to always be about the work – not about obtaining fans.)

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Matthew Toffolo

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.

My take on “Bill Parcells – A Football Life” book

Coming in at 544 pages in medium print, the Parcells “I better get this all down before I die” book, that looks at his life and career as a football coach, goes down many fascinating roads in his life. From his childhood, to college, to coaching in various places in college, to his NFL stints for the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins….we journey through many relationships, triumphs and dilemas Parcells goes through.

What was most interesting about this book was the greatness he endoured as perhaps one of the greatest NFL coaches of all-time, while at the same time he failed in his personal life. He let down 4 women that loved him unconditionally – his ex-wife and their 3 daughters. He developed countless relationships and friendships with 100s of people in his life – but they all seemed to be men. From his fellow coaches, to the players he became a strong father figure to, to his relationships with media moguls and billionaires, all his amazing times and bonding sessions in his life were with other men. All the while he ignored his 3 girls and wife who he cheated on countless times until she had enough and eventually divorced him. Parcells regrets those relationships and you wonder what he would have changed again if he could.

That is what you usually see when you look into the life of a person who succeeded a great deal in their chosen path in their lives. Amazing accolades but at a cost to the people who loved them. You can’t do it alone as Parcells needed his wife to make him the man he became, but he only let her in when he needed that support. When he was at his strongest emotionally and intellectually, Parcells was working on football. He was there for countless players as a father-type as he helped them with their personal lives, but it really wasn’t done without his own agenda as the better players they were the more football games he could win.

Parcells has many great sayings on the tricks of the trade of being a successful person. My favorite one on the book is – Don’t confuse routine with commitment.

Now if I only read that saying a few years ago, perhaps my life would be so much better right now. In the past I have mistaken my routines for a committment on my career, but they really were just a way for me to keep working and convince myself that I was committed to the business at hand. But that wasn’t true.

I liked this book because it shows a man who loved something so much and was very organized and discplined on how to do a job well.

Doug Marrone, it was good to know you!

It was a trying time in Buffalo Bills land between Christmas and New Years as in that same week our starting quarterback retired unexpectantly, then our head coach resigned due to a buyout clause in his contract. So after a promising 9-7 record, with a strong chance to finally make the playoffs in 2015, we lose our QB and coach right after the season ended.

But if there was ever a time to use the term “It was all a blessing in disguise”, this is the time.

Kyle Orton, was a career backup who wasn’t going to bring any team to the promise land riding his QB coattails. So whatever. My opinion all along was to give EJ Manuel some more time in the starting gig. I believe that the Bills would have gone 8-8 if Manuel started all the games this season, plus he would have garnered tons more experience. Instead, we gave most of our reps to a guy who was set to retire at seasons end. If there was ever a wasted season….but perhaps all of this needed to happen to set up our future.

Doug Marrone wanted a winning record on his resume this season because I feel with all my instincts that he was set to leave Buffalo as soon as the team was sold to the Pegula family and he could exercise his opt-out clause. A winning record in Buffalo, his agent told him, would set him up for another head coaching job of his choice. So when Marrone resigned, I’m certain he and his agent thought they would have gotten one of the opening jobs in Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland, or the NY Jets. They probably even had some inside sources on the matter too.

But, much to the happiness to many Bills fans, Marrone didn’t get a head coaching job and in fact wasn’t really in the running for any of them. Now he’s the Offensive Line coach for the worst team in the league in the Jacksonville Jaguers. So despite Marrone’s “positive outlook” on the events that occured, there is no way he’s a happy person. For some reason that makes me smile. Good on him for disrespecting our team.

And now Rex Ryan is our coach. And I guarantee that 90% of Bills fans are happier with Ryan in the head coaches seat than Marrone.

2014 was a year of bad things that occurred in my life that turned into great things in hindsight. Sometimes we just need to have patience and let things proceed as we keep moving forward. Marrone is the key example. See you later coach. I guarantee we’ll never see you again. Have fun with your extreme demotion.

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Matthew Toffolo

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.