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Bills coach Sean McDermott once turned down job with PricewaterhouseCoopers

Buffalo Bills first-year coach Sean McDermott and first-year general manager Brandon Beane have a shared history, having worked together for the Carolina Panthers the past six seasons.

But McDermott, the former Panthers defensive coordinator, and Beane, the former Panthers assistant general manager, can relate to each other on a deeper level: They both turned down more lucrative job offers in other fields to begin their careers in football.

McDermott majored in finance at William & Mary, where he played safety from 1993 through 1997. In the fall of his senior year, McDermott accepted a job at PricewatershouseCoopers, a well-known international accounting and financial advisory firm.

McDermott's plans changed in the spring of 1998, when longtime William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock offered him a spot on the Tribe's football staff.

"I said, 'I'd like to give it a try,'" McDermott said. "So that spring, while all my buddies are going through their senior year, drinking and partying and having fun like seniors do, I was on my way to spring practice. I helped with the defensive backs, and you guys know the rest of the résumé."

After he spent the 1998 season as a graduate assistant at William & Mary, McDermott landed a job in the Philadelphia Eagles' scouting department in 1999. He soon latched onto then-coach Andy Reid, who promoted him up the coaching ladder until he became defensive coordinator in 2009.

McDermott's decision to pursue a career as a football coach did not come without sacrifice.

"I slept in my office in Philadelphia three and four nights a week and had a young family and wasn't holding up my end of the bargain as a husband, as a father," he said.

Beane's path to becoming an NFL general manager began during his college years at North Carolina-Wilmington in the mid-1990s. He initially enrolled as an English major under a North Carolina teaching fellow scholarship. He had to pay back part of that scholarship after he decided as a sophomore that he wanted to work in football and changed his major to communication studies.

As his college days came to an end, Beane found himself at another crossroads: He was offered a full-time job as a writer for Sports Business Journal for $30,000 a year, but he had completed a public relations internship with the Panthers and had interviewed for a season-long internship in Carolina's football operations department.

"I just kept holding [Sports Business Journal] off and trying to speed it up with Carolina and finally got it," he said. "So I turned down a $30,000 a year job for minimum wage, no benefits. And my wife didn't kick me out for that, so that was pretty good."