GAME OF WEEK: Parcells unapologetic about Bucs

Updated: October 25, 2003, 12:53 PM ET

TAMPA, Fla. -- Bill Parcells would rather talk about almost anything other than why he's coaching the Dallas Cowboys instead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The two-time Super Bowl winner backed out of agreements to take over the Bucs twice in the past 12 years and remains unapologetic.

"I don't know that I have the right answer. This just hit me right," Parcells said. "But hey, things worked out very well for them, so I'm happy about that."

The Bucs won their first Super Bowl in January, barely a year after Parcells opted against coming out of retirement to replace Tony Dungy.

The sons of Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer eventually pried Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders, but it cost the Bucs four high draft picks and $8 million just for the right to negotiate a contract with the NFL's youngest coach.

Parcells also left original Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse saying he felt "jilted at the altar" in 1991, when the coach spurned Tampa Bay because of health issues.

"There were just things that are of a personal nature that I couldn't get myself to do it. ... I don't look back on that at all, and I don't have any animosity about it. Deep down, I don't think they do either," Parcells said.

The 62-year-old coach reiterated that he doesn't regret turning down an opportunity to work with a seasoned team on the verge of winning a championship and later accepting the challenge of rebuilding the younger, less experienced Cowboys, who are off to a surprising 5-1 start under his direction.

"You make your decisions. ... The time to worry is before you place the bet, not after the wheel is spinning," Parcells said. "Once it spins, you forget about that, so I don't look back on that stuff, honestly."

With Parcells bringing his new team to town to face the struggling defending Super Bowl champions (3-3) on Sunday, the Glazers have maintained their usual low profile and declined requests for interviews.

Last December, though, the Glazers revealed just how close they were to bringing Parcells to Tampa Bay. The owners disclosed they had a signed contract and wanted compensation from Dallas if the Cowboys hired him.

Although some speculated that Parcells no longer had a passion for the game when he turned down the Bucs, he's clearly showing otherwise with Dallas, which has won five straight games -- its longest winning streak since 1994.

"He's brought a winning attitude," Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter said. "He's brought a competitive spirit. ... We believe in him. He's done it before."

Tampa Bay's Keyshawn Johnson played three seasons for Parcells when he was with the New York Jets. He isn't surprised that Dallas, off to its best start since 8-1 in 1995, is reaping immediate results.

Parcells is unmatched as a teacher and motivator, and the coach's zest for winning is infectious, the Bucs' receiver said.

"Whether they get to the playoffs or not, it's a dramatic turnaround from last year," Johnson said. "He's already a success in Dallas."

But as much as Johnson thinks of Parcells, he's not sure he would have been the right fit for a Tampa Bay team that underachieved under Dungy. After all, it's difficult to argue with the success the Bucs have had with Gruden, who built on the foundation laid before his arrival.

"I don't know if we would have won a championship with (Parcells) here last year," Johnson said.

"I would think that he would have come in here and just done everything the way he wanted to, meaning getting rid of certain players, just doing things differently. He probably wouldn't have kept things intact."

Parcells conceded he's a little surprised by the Cowboys' quick start. He spent much of the past week stressing problems the team needs to fix to continue to be successful and beat playoff-caliber teams like the Bucs, who have dropped two of their past three games.

Dallas' coach said people shouldn't be deceived by Tampa Bay's .500 record. The Super Bowl champions have been beset by injuries and lost twice in overtime.

"I still think they're solid," Parcells said. "I told my players that when you've been a championship team like they have, they have some qualities and confidence and things that not every team you play has. We have to be ready for that."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index