John Madden
John Madden
Parcells-Gibbs: Hard to stay away
By John Madden

Monday night's game is an interesting rivalry game, just thinking back to all the Cowboys-Redskins games over the years and all the different coaches that have coached in this rivalry. In this newest installation we have two of the best coaches to have ever coached in the NFL.

My relationship with Joe Gibbs is now 40 years old! We were together at San Diego State under Don Coryell, I was the defensive coordinator and Joe was a graduate assistant helping to coach the defense that season. You just knew that he was going to be a good coach! I never really looked at him as a graduate assistant I always just thought of him as an assistant coach on a college team, so being his first job as a coach he was just a natural.

Gibbs' coaching career started that season as a defensive coach and towards the end of the season we got into some stupid argument before we were to face the alumni in the spring, he was coaching the alumni and I wanted him to give me the plays and the formations that the alumni would be using so we could practice against it, I didn't want him to tell me when he intended to use the plays I just wanted the formations and plays. He wouldn't do it and the argument ensued!

You know being a defensive coach you have to be able to put in some sort of a game plan and have some idea what you were defending against and he refused. So I was beginning to see that he was as hard-headed as I was and the argument just continued and I figured eventually he would give in since he was under me but the thing just kept going and he never did give them to me so then the final straw was that I said, "Look, if you don't give them to me then you'll never work for me again." I was only an assistant and didn't have any right to threaten him like that but I never thought it would get to that point. Then the alumni game is played and we won the game and I guess he took the bluff and told Don that I had said he couldn't coach with me anymore so Don put him to work as the offensive line coach the next season.

That's the story of how Gibbs became an offensive coach, had I not said the things that I said and didn't mean then Gibbs may have stayed a defensive coach, although he would have definitely achieved the same success that he has it just may have taken a little different route.

We have stayed friends through that entire time, it never changed our friendship and the success that he has had going from an assistant coach to a head coach, three Super Bowl championships, Hall of Fame coach, makes you very proud to know that you have been associated with something that special for 40 years.

When Joe made the decision to come back the first question people asked me was, "Are you surprised that he came back?" I was shocked that he came back! Usually if someone is going to come back it doesn't take them 12 years to do it. He did well when he was in it before and he's going to do well now. The thing that people have to remember is that it takes a while to get your players, you are playing that first year with someone else's players and that is what Bill Parcells did so well last year with the Dallas Cowboys. Parcells did an amazing job to win 10 games his first year in Dallas. You know he is a good coach and you know that any team that he coaches is going to get better but you don't expect it to come in the first year.

Bill is another one that I have known for such a long time, I remember when he was an assistant coach and got to know him very well when he was an assistant with Ray Perkins with the New York Giants, then moved on to be the defensive coordinator with the Giants and eventually the Head Coach of the Giants. He was another one that I just knew was going to be a good coach, they are good teachers, good motivators and know how to get players to play and you just know that it is a matter of time. Fortunately for Bill, the Giants were willing to be patient with him and give him a few years because it didn't start out very well. I remember saying at the time that they needed to stick with him and give him a little time. Then fortunately for the Giants they did give him that time because he led them to a Super Bowl before he left to go to New England where he took them to a Super Bowl, followed by a stint with the Jets that got them back on the straight and narrow and now the Cowboys are getting things going in the right direction after a handful of 5-11 seasons before his arrival.

Parcells is one of those guys that lives and dies football and I really felt that while he is coaching football he has a hard time living with it and when he isn't coaching he has a hard time living without it. Both of these guys have won so many games and they expect to win every game and when you win it's just something that you expect and the high of a win is never as high as the low of a loss and the longer you are in the business the wider that gap becomes.

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