Parcells Turns Down Bucs' Offer

Saturday, January 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Ten years later, Bill Parcells' response to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the same.

Thanks, but no thanks.

The two-time Super Bowl champion coach on Friday night turned down an offer to return to the sideline with the Buccaneers, saying he wasn't committed to doing what is necessary to lead the team to a championship.

The move left owner Malcolm Glazer and his sons scrambling to come up with an alternative to the only candidate under consideration to replace Tony Dungy.

``Bill Parcells, early this evening, told us that he would not be returning to coaching,'' Bucs executive vice president Joel Glazer said in a one-paragraph statement.

``In our continued pursuit of a championship, we remain confident that our new coach will utilize the solid foundation that we have built to achieve our goals.''

It's not the first time Parcells has rejected the Bucs. He also did it after the 1991 season, when Tampa Bay thought it had an agreement only to be disappointed at the last minute.

The 60-year-old Parcells called the current Tampa Bay job one of the most appealing he's ever been offered. But he said the opportunity just didn't feel right.

``I didn't want to go down there for one or two years, and then not be able to follow through with what I know to be the type of effort that has to be in place in order to succeed in this competitive industry,'' Parcells said on Sporting News Radio, which carries his weekly show.

``I'm finished coaching. There aren't going to be any more rumors about me coaching. I just feel like I couldn't make the commitment to do it. ... You just can't kid yourself, you got to know that.''

The Bucs fired Dungy, the most successful coach in the team's 26-year history, Monday night _ two days after a 31-9 loss to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.

Dungy was 54-42 in six seasons, and Tampa Bay is one of just three teams to make the playoffs each of the past three seasons. But two years removed from an appearance in the NFC Championship game, Glazer felt a change was necessary to get to the team to the Super Bowl.

There were rumors all season that Parcells was preparing to come out of retirement with Tampa Bay, which overcame a slow start to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

When Parcells spurned the Bucs 10 years ago, then-owner Hugh Culverhouse said he felt like ``we've been jilted at the altar.'' This time, the news struck some as poetic justice because of the messy way the team handled Dungy's firing.

The first sign that the plan to hire Parcells was falling apart came when the Jets announced Friday that Mike Tannenbaum, thought to be Parcells' hand-picked choice to be Tampa Bay's new general manager, was remaining in New York.

Tannenbaum, who interviewed with the Bucs on Wednesday and Thursday, would have replaced Rich McKay as Tampa Bay's primary player contract negotiator and salary cap expert.

McKay was offered the position of team president, but wanted to wait until after Parcells was hired to decide whether to stay with the organization.

``It's hard for me to believe that he's not going to be the coach after everything that has been said and done in the past few days,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks said.

Earlier Friday, the Bucs confirmed receiving a letter from the NFL warning Parcells and the team that they could be punished for attempting to assemble a staff that included people still under contract to other teams.

Parcells won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and rebuilt New England and the Jets into title contenders before walking out on each of those teams.

Uncertainty about his desire to coach again has had an impact on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot the past two years.

He was a finalist for election last January and is among the 15 finalists again this year. But because a coach isn't eligible while he is still working, he would be removed from the ballot if he came out of retirement.

After failing to be elected a year ago, Parcells suggested one reason was the voters thought he might return to coaching. The ballot was released later than usual this year because Hall of Fame officials were concerned that he might take the Tampa Bay job.

Parcells said the issue did not affect Friday's decision. He also was adamant that will not change his mind.

``Absolutely not. I'm done,'' he told ``This was the last job I will ever consider. I'm just not doing it any more.''