Bill Parcells explains decision not to return to coaching

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left, congratulates Dallas Cowboys head coach BIll Parcells after the Cowboys beat the Saints 30-7 in a preseason football game. (Aug. 21, 2006) Photo Credit: AP

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Bill Parcells' initial reaction was to help Sean Payton, but ultimately the former NFL coach decided he was too comfortable in retirement.

Parcells spoke with ESPN -- where he works as an analyst -- about his decision this week to remove his name from consideration for the Saints' job.

"In my mind, I didn't really feel an inclination to do that," Parcells said of taking over as interim head coach while Payton serves a yearlong suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal. "My real feelings were about his welfare . . . I've been out quite a while now and I have another life and I'm pretty happy with that."

Parcells has not coached since 2006, when he finished four years with the Cowboys. He'll turn 71 this summer and was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in February. Had he returned to the sideline, he would have had to wait at least another five years before reconsideration for the Hall of Fame.

Parcells said he spoke with Payton shortly after the NFL initially announced his punishment late last month. He played golf in Florida with Payton during the owners meetings there last month. When the NFL upheld Payton's suspension under appeal this week, the door seemed to be open for Parcells' return to coaching. But Parcells said talks never got very far.

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"I talked to him very soon after the announcement came out," Parcells said. "We went back and forth about a lot of subjects, and one of them was coaching, and we just kind of broached that."

Payton's suspension begins Monday and many signs are pointing to assistant head coach Joe Vitt taking over the day-to-day coaching of the Saints as they head into their offseason program. Vitt will be suspended for the first six games of the regular season for his role in the bounty program, but he is allowed to remain active on the staff until after the preseason.

"I do have a very high regard for the coach of the Saints, Sean Payton," Parcells said. "I like him very much personally, we worked together for three years in Dallas, we correspond on a frequent basis. My initial thoughts were just concern about him."

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