Bill Parcells looks back at football life – says he almost chose Pizza Hut over football; comments on Saints job; nickname Big Tuna

Former NFL coach Bill Parcells joined the show to talk about going into the Hall of Fame this weekend. Here are some snippets of Dan’s interviews with Parcells (not a complete version):

DP: How close were you to not being a coach in the NFL?
BP: I never really was aspiring [to that] when I was a young coach. It was a decision between going into coaching, going to law school , which I had interest in.And going to work for a franchise that I had worked for in college. The name of the franchise was Pizza Hut. …. We were running stores for them. … What they wanted me to be was a franchisee and expand the franchise. When they were talking to me there were only about six or eight of them.

DP: Did you ego ever get in the way.
BP: Oh ya, sure. It happens. This profession is not without change. You have new ownership come in and your’e already established as a  coach and things change. I think ego can get in the way. At least once for sure.

DP: You have a reputation as someone who knows how to push buttons.
BP: I don’t know if that’s the case. I don’t believe coaches are great motivators. If a player’s not a self starter you’re going to have a difficult time getting him to do very much. If a player responds to competition , your job is to show him where the competition is.

DP: Different rules for different players?
BP: A lot of people have written that. That’s always hurt me the most. I was interested in being right. Each situation needed to be handled differently.

DP: Do you see a connection between your relationship with Bill Belichick and Bobby Knight’s relationship with Coach K?
BP: I think all four of us were exposed to the military academies in one way or the other.

DP: Did you coach in a militaristic way?
BP: I’d say some aspects were a little bit miliatristc. But you have to let them see the other side. You have to let them know there’s something other than that task-master there. It can come in different situations. I know many players have commented to me about those times it was just me and them. Those kinds of thing seemed to be the more effective.

DP: How close were you to taking the Saints job last season?
BP: I have a very strong fondness for Sean Payton. … I do think retrospectively for me not to do it and probably better for the Saints for me not to go there. There were just too many things they were going to have to overcome last year. I’m not sure anyone could have succeeded under those circumstances.

DP: If I brought up Bounty-Gate or head shots in the 1970s, would anyone have understood why I was upset?
BP: It’s been around for a long time. There were incentives. But I never was exposed to [what] Bounty-Gate turned out to be. I would have never stood up there in front of them and say we gotta knock this guy out. I’d say we gotta put Eric Dickerson on his back when he carries the ball. I remember saying that. Or the first time we faced Bo Jackson. We need to let this guy know he’s in a football game not a baseball game. I guess they could be construed in a certain way by certain people. No malicious intent. Just put the heat on him.

DP: Who gave you the nickname Tuna?
BP: The New England players. They were trying to get me to sign up for a free turkey that doesn’t exist. … [I said] what do you think I am, Charlie the Tuna? And that goes back to that Starkist commercial where Charlie was kind of a sucker. … I was a rookie coach [in 1980]. I knew there was something fishy because too many guys asked me.