"Parcells: A Football Life"

In an alternate universe, and according to at least one online bookseller, this is the cover of the book.


On January 23, 2013, Mauro DiPreta, Crown Archetype's editor-in-chief, emailed me this possible jacket -- a cover image in publishing parlance: "Here's something fun--a draft of the cover. I think it's a cool concept, so have a look. This would be for catalog only, just something for Sales to use as they talk about the book."

Catalogs are an important tool that publishers use to advertise their upcoming books and generate interest from places like Barnes & Nobles, Target, Walmart and libraries around the country. Produced seasonally or annually, a catalog displays cover images and pertinent information, including a summary of the work and author bios. The Crown Publishing Group's catalog for the fall of 2014 covered the books for its numerous imprints, and spanned 80 pages. Crown Archetype showcased Parcells first among the eight books it listed, signifying the importance to the publisher. To see the book in the pdf version of Crown's catalog, scroll down about 20 pages to Crown Archetype's section.

Bill and I loved the concept of the original cover image: Bill's back to the audience captured his mindset, and added an element of mystery, especially to a general audience. And yet, his silhouette was one that most sports fans would recognize. (My only quibble involved the blood-red lettering, which seemed to make the cover gloomier than necessary.) Bill has always kept his guard up, and the book would reveal him like never before. Mauro, who'd acquired the book, decided to stick to the jacket after running it by Bill, and getting his approval.

However, in March 2014, Mauro left for the top job at Hachette Books, a new division for one of the so-called Big Five publishing companies. (The merger of Penguin and Random House in June 2013 had reduced the group's nickname by one). And Crown reverted to Mauro's initial mindset of the jacket being merely a draft. On May 2, 2014 publisher Tina Constable sent me an email that illustrated why she's a heavy hitter in the business: "I felt like we were settling with the images we had for the cover. They were B game and I want A game."

Bill and I also loved the 'A' jacket, picked by another of her editors. The black-and-white theme maintained an unconventional element. The striking cover image added style and gravitas. And instead of using a photograph of Bill in his heyday, the relatively current representation, like Mauro's choice, indicated a reflection on his storied life.

An ad that uses the original jacket can be found on the website for Book Depository, one of the United Kingdom's largest online booksellers. Perhaps one reason for the mistake is that the company sends millions of books annually to more than 100 countries. To order the book from Book Depository, click here, but don't expect this cover.