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Bill Parcells book: Almost became Saints coach, almost traded them Tony Romo

2/3/2015

METAIRIE, La. -- Bill Parcells strongly considered becoming the New Orleans Saints' coach during Sean Payton’s suspension in 2012. And the Saints came closer to trading for quarterback Tony Romo in 2006 than people might have realized.

Those were two of the most interesting Saints-related tidbits in Parcells' latest authorized biography, "Parcells: A Football Life," which he co-authored with writer Nunyo Demasio.

Some of this stuff has been out there already, but I finally had a chance to dig into the book now that the offseason is upon us. And it’s even more relevant now that two of Parcells' protégés are working for the Saints -- Payton and scout Jeff Ireland.

Here are some of the highlights. Stay tuned for Part 2, to come:

On coaching Saints in 2012: Parcells strongly considered Payton’s plea to fill in for him as an interim coach during Payton’s bounty suspension. The Saints even agreed to let Parcells approach former assistants Eric Mangini and Al Groh about joining the staff so he could have had some of his own familiar guys with him.

According to the book, both Payton and Saints owner Tom Benson embraced the idea, but general manager Mickey Loomis seemed reluctant, perhaps sensitive to the effect on the incumbent coaching staff. The book also noted that some reports speculated Parcells would land an executive role after Payton’s return. Parcells and Loomis met for the first time that spring when Payton arranged for them to discuss the possibility over a round of golf.

"Who knows what Loomis really thought?" Parcells said. "I don’t have any idea. I don’t know Loomis; I only met him once. But guys like me threaten guys like him."

Still, Parcells weighed the pros and cons for more than two weeks and wrote that some people close to him, like Lawrence Taylor, urged him to take the job. Parcells liked that it was a temporary opportunity and that it offered a chance to enhance his legacy by possibly taking a fifth team to the playoffs (especially after his previous job with the Miami Dolphins ended poorly). He also wanted to help Payton, whom he considers like a son.

However, Parcells had qualms about working with a staff to which he had no direct ties, especially considering it was just part-time. "So if things don’t go well, people will say, 'This guy tried to change everything we were doing,'" Parcells said. 'And if it does go well, people will say, 'Well, (expletive), he has a built-in advantage.'"

Parcells, who was 69 at the time, also didn’t like the idea of pushing back his Hall of Fame eligibility five years, though he said he refused to base his decision solely on that.

Ultimately, according to the book, Parcells decided he liked his current lifestyle and was uncertain whether he possessed the energy required to do things in his maniacal way.

As for the bounty allegations that got Payton suspended in the first place, the book said Parcells expressed dismay that Payton allowed it to happen under his watch and said, "I didn’t teach him that stuff." But the book said Parcells also detected some hypocrisy with the way the NFL came down so strongly on the Saints in the name of player safety, even as they were pursuing an expanded 18-game schedule.

On a possible Romo trade: According to the book, the Saints offered the Dallas Cowboys a third-round pick for quarterback Romo when Payton first took over as New Orleans’ coach in 2006 -- when Romo was still a backup. But Parcells and Dallas owner Jerry Jones wanted a second-round pick, which the Saints deemed too costly.

Payton had pursued and developed Romo when Payton was the Cowboys’ passing-game coordinator under Parcells. Payton and Romo were both record-setting quarterbacks at Eastern Illinois. According to the book, Payton convinced Romo to accept a $15,000 bonus to sign with the Cowboys as an undrafted rookie in 2003, even though another Eastern Illinois product, Mike Shanahan, had offered $25,000 to try and lure Romo to Denver.

Payton almost took Raiders job: The book detailed how close Payton came to accepting the Oakland Raiders head coaching job in 2004, even buying a black suit and silver tie. But Parcells joined some of Payton’s close friends in the coaching ranks -- Jon Gruden, John Fox and Bill Callahan -- in advising against it.

"Put my name behind those three," Parcells recounted advising Payton, saying he wanted to talk to Payton "like a son" and not like a head coach talking to an assistant. "You’re going to get your chance. This just isn’t the right one, kid."