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Parcells turns down Falcons, considers job with Dolphins

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Bill Parcells will not be joining the Atlanta Falcons as head of football operations.

    Parcells turned down the position, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Wednesday in a statement. Blank said the team had an agreement in principle with Parcells, but after he told the Falcons he was considering an offer from the Miami Dolphins, negotiations fell through.

    Sources close to Parcells told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli that Parcells and the Dolphins are in active negotiations and are closing in on a deal.

    "We gave it our best shot, and it didn't work out. We will continue down the same overall path, proceeding with plans to hire a general manager and a head coach. We will identify and consider every strongly viable candidate for these positions, with the goal of hiring the best," Blank said, according to a statement.
    Parcells, an ESPN NFL analyst, was considering an offer to join the team's front office as vice president of football operations, a role that would put him in charge of finding the next coach for a team rocked by the suspension and imprisonment of Michael Vick and the sudden resignation of Bobby Petrino.
    The announcement that talks broke down with Parcells leaves the makeup of the Falcons' front office, and their search for a replacement for Petrino, in question.
    The announcement was a far cry from earlier Wednesday, when Parcells told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that he was leaning toward accepting the Falcons' offer.
    "I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it. [Owner] Arthur [Blank] and I have had some pretty constructive discussions. I basically will oversee the football operations. We'll meet today -- not in Atlanta -- and work out some of the final details but I don't think there's any deal breakers here," Parcells said earlier.
    According to the statement, Rich McKay will remain president of the club and will retain general manager responsibilities until a new GM is hired.
    Blank added that the Falcons remain committed to "looking at every option for building a championship-caliber team for our fans.
    "I have stated we will leave no stone unturned in doing so, and this effort is one example of that," Blank said.
    The courtship with Parcells may have no real effect on the team's search for a new coach. The Falcons are expected to wait at least until the end of the regular season to begin serious talks with candidates.
    Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene declined comment, saying the organization does not discuss rumors.
    "Really?" defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday said when told by The AP about Parcells' apparent interest in the Dolphins. "You can't control it. But somebody like the Big Tuna, regardless of who's in the front office or who's not, brings a lot of respect and a lot of credibility with him. He's a Hall of Famer. If you're a free agent out there, that might draw you in."
    Parcells is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
    The story broke as many Dolphins were playing cards and dominoes in the locker room after practice, and instantly, many of them began turning heads toward the televisions scattered about the room.
    It didn't take long for even the mere mention of Parcells to create a buzz in Miami.
    "I have a lot of respect for what he's been able to do in other places and I'd expect, if he did come in here, for him to do the same," Holliday said. "I don't know what's going to happen upstairs. I have no idea. I have a lot of respect for [GM] Randy Mueller, as well. But my interest is in what's best for this team and getting us in the right direction."

  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Atlanta was hot on Parcells' trail in '87

    ATLANTA -- Twenty years ago, under different ownership but similarly dire circumstances for the franchise, the Falcons pursued Bill Parcells but failed to reel in The Tuna when then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle ordered both sides to cease negotiations.

    Since that original flirtation in 1987, there have been other times during the Falcons' mostly miserable history that Parcells' name was floated as a possible remedy to the team's problems. But never had the overtures been as strong as the one owner Arthur Blank made to the two-time Super Bowl champion head coach this week. And never had the Falcons had such a viable shot at finally luring Parcells here to essentially oversee the entire football operation.Blank, a high-profile owner with a flair for headline-type moves, knew that he needed to make a big splash for a franchise that this season lapsed into irrelevance locally. This has been a miserable season for the Falcons, with the Michael Vick episode and Bobby Petrino's leaving the team after 13 games. Bringing The Tuna here, with the kind of cachet and respect Parcells' name brings, would have qualified as a big splash.

    Of course, Parcells, currently an ESPN analyst, has a history of great deliberation over job offers. Tuesday night, as reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, sources felt a decision on the Atlanta position could come as early as Wednesday.

    It did. Parcells turned down the job, the Falcons said.

    Sources said Parcells had similar discussions with the Miami Dolphins about a general manager-type position, but those talks broke off about 7-10 days ago. The Falcons, in a news release, said Parcells was considering an offer from Miami.

    If Parcells would have accept the post here, it would have culminated an off-and-on courtship that began after then-Falcons owner Rankin Smith fired coach Dan Henning following the 1986 season.

    At that time, Parcells was head coach of the New York Giants and coming off a Super Bowl XXI victory over the Denver Broncos.

    Negotiating with Parcells' agent at the time, the late Robert Fraley, the Falcons offered Parcells the dual role of head coach and general manager. The pursuit of Parcells followed the team's courtship of former Philadelphia coach Dick Vermeil and of UCLA coach Terry Donahue. Fraley approached Falcons management, including Smith's two sons, team president Rankin Smith Jr. and vice president Taylor Smith, and apprised them he had an unnamed client who might be interested in the job.

    That client turned out to be Parcells.

    The two sides were deep into discussions, with the Falcons offering Parcells broad powers over the football operation and a then-unheard of salary of $900,000 annually. At the time, Parcells had two seasons remaining on his contract with the Giants, at salaries of $300,000 for 1987 and $325,000 for 1988.

    But, after considerable negotiation and rampant rumors that Parcells might bolt the Super Bowl champion Giants for the Falcons' job, then-commissioner Pete Rozelle intervened and shut down the talks.

    During the Pro Bowl week in Honolulu, Rozelle announced that, because of Parcells' contract with the Giants, he would not permit the Falcons to continue the discussions. And he essentially ordered Fraley to cease any attempts to remove Parcells from his Giants' deal. Because Rozelle felt the talks had been initiated by Fraley, he did not enact any sanctions against the Falcons, although many thought the franchise had breached the NFL tampering rules by conducting negotiations with a coach under contract to another club.

    Under the guise of plausible deniability, Falcons officials issued a statement denying any violations of the league's tampering policies.

    The botched courtship of Parcells in 1987 was, unfortunately, all too typical of the manner in which the franchise operated at the time. The Smith family subsequently hired Marion Campbell, whom it had fired five games into the 1976 season, for a second stint as head coach. Campbell lasted less than three full seasons in his second go-round, resigning with four games remaining in the 1989 campaign.

    Even under new ownership, Atlanta is still chasing the kind of stability it sought in 1987, when the Falcons tried hard to bring Parcells here. This time, under Blank, the Falcons thought they'd get the man team management felt was the right guy two decades ago to provide that stability and leadership.

    Instead, it fell through. Again.


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