As Modern Family begins its third season, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Ed O'Neill playing Jay Pritchett. But it turns out Ed wasn't first choice for the gruff patriarch of everyone's favorite extended family!

Craig T. Nelson was originally offered the role, but he turned it down due to money — and he hasn't been afraid to admit it. "I'm old enough to say it, I guess. [Money] was it," he told Access Hollywood.

Credit: L: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images For The Broadcast Television Journalists Association; R: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI Photo: Ed O'Neill and Craig T. Nelson

The former Coach star, who currently plays a more serious patriarch of an extended family on NBC's Parenthood, wasn't feeling the love from ABC's accounting department. "I just said, 'You know what? I've been doing this too long.' We're in the middle of a cutback here […] and salaries have gone way, way down. […] I just felt disrespected, to tell you the truth."

So how does Ed feel about the world knowing he was runner up for the role? Just fine, thankyouverymuch. "I had a feeling about the show […] and so I was fortunate, you know, that Craig couldn't come to terms," he dished in a separate interview with Access Hollywood.

Now that Modern Family has racked up killer ratings and numerous awards — and the cast is getting a nice salary bump for their third season — does Craig regret his decision? "Look, I'm blessed," he revealed about his Parenthood gig. "I love going to work."

Sources: Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood