1964 draft was one to remember

No one ever predicted stardom for Parcells, at least not as a player. He was a hard-nosed offensive lineman for Wichita State and played for then- Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis in a college all-star game known as the Challenge Bowl in Corpus Christi, Texas. He must have done something right, because the Lions picked him in the seventh round, one spot after Hayes.

"I always tell Bill that we had him rated higher than Hayes, but Hayes was just a little bit faster," Brandt said with a laugh.

After getting cut, Parcells recognized he had no future as a player, so he weighed his options: law school, coaching or the pizza business.

During college, he worked as a manager at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Wichita, where the chain was founded by Dan and Frank Carney. After graduation, Parcells was offered his own franchise. At a crossroads in his life, he gave it strong consideration.

"I was one of their hometown boys," Parcells said. "It was pretty attractive. They made me guarantees that weren't common in coaching, economically."

Parcells followed his heart instead of the get-rich-quick possibilities of the pizza business. He pursued coaching, establishing a legacy as one of the great franchise fixers in history. He has a lifetime in indelible memories and, yes, bling -- two Super Bowl rings.

Aside from Parcells, the draft produced several other well-known coaches, including longtime NFL assistants Monte Kiffin, Sherman Lewis and Howard Mudd. Bill Curry, the next-to-last player chosen (279th), ended up coaching three decades on the college level.

Parcells remembers coaching against Kiffin in the Bluebonnet Bowl in the old Astrodome, when they were both young college assistants.

Some members of the class first crossed paths before the '64 draft, with connections back to high school in some cases. Warfield and Krause competed against each other in a regional track meet on the prep level. Staubach and Warfield played on opposite sides in an Ohio all-star game, with Staubach nearly pulling off a miracle comeback -- a harbinger of his NFL career.

Renfro and Warfield went head-to-head in a college track meet, with Warfield edging him by a half-inch in the long jump. Taylor was assigned to cover Warfield in a college all-star game. Brown blocked Eller for an entire Nebraska-Minnesota game, an intense personal rivalry they renewed in the NFL.

"He haunted me all my life, it seemed like," Eller said. "Now he's one of my best football friends."

They were inducted in the Hall of Fame the same year, 2004, the eighth and ninth members of the Elite 11 to reach Canton. Brown and Eller are 72 years old; the rest of the surviving 10 are 71 or 72, spread across the country, yet joined by an invisible bond.

"We must have been rockin' pretty good in '64," Brown said with a laugh. "Was it something in the water or what?"

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