12-19-07 - Bill Parcells' day began with reports he would rebuild the Atlanta Falcons. It ended with him on the cusp of taking the same job with the Miami Dolphins.
Parcells and Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga agreed Wednesday on a four-year contract to be Miami's vice president of football operations, according to ESPN, which employs the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach as an analyst.
The Dolphins declined comment, only saying no contract has been signed, and no one at Huizenga's business office was authorized to comment when reached Wednesday evening by The Associated Press.
Miami's players were also caught off-stride by the news, which broke after they finished practice.
"I don't know anything," defensive end Jason Taylor said.
So, for the second time in less than a week, an off-field story is dominating the conversation at Miami's training complex.
The first revelation came last Friday: Huizenga has been in talks about selling the team to two real estate developers for about $1.1 billion, although it seems that deal has since unraveled and there's no immediate plans by the owner to sell even a portion of the franchise.
And now this: Parcells, who previously coached the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys, is apparently set to return to the NFL.
"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. ... If you're a free agent out there, that might draw you in."
When the Falcons announced Parcells turned them down -- while also releasing that he was in negotiations with the Dolphins -- several Miami players were playing cards and dominoes in the locker room.
"We met with him this morning to complete the contract. At that time, we were made aware by Parcells that he was considering a revised offer from the Miami Dolphins," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. "He later informed us that he would not be signing a contract with us."
Many Dolphins immediately turned their attention to the television, seeking more information. Clearly, the mere mention of Parcells coming to Miami created an immediate buzz.
"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."
With his team mired in the longest playoff drought in franchise history -- six years and counting -- Huizenga has long sought different ways of doing exactly that. If that contract gets signed, bringing in the 66-year-old Parcells might wind up being the latest big Huizenga move.
In January 2004, he hired Miami's greatest player, Dan Marino, as senior vice president of football operations, a job created just for him. Marino resigned from the loosely defined role 22 days later, saying he didn't want to change his lifestyle.
Later that year, Huizenga hired coach Nick Saban away from LSU; he lasted only two seasons in Miami before bolting after the 2006 campaign to return to college football at Alabama.
"Bill Parcells," Holliday said, pausing and smiling. "That's a big name."