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NFL.com: Parcells vs. Gibbs: Just like old times


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Parcells vs. Gibbs: Just like old times

By Phil Simms

Special to NFL.com


(Sept. 21, 2004) -- You might have heard me tell this story before, but it's worth repeating:

When I was with the Giants in 1986, we were in Washington for a critical game. The Redskins were probably our greatest rival, and we're getting ready to take the field in a game that would determine everything -- home-field advantage in the playoffs, which usually meant the road to the Super Bowl. I'm getting ready to get out of the dugout steps at old RFK Stadium. Coach Parcells is standing next to me, and I say, "Man, the fans are gonna let us have it when we get out there."

To which Bill Parcells says, "Yeah, isn't it great!"

And I smiled, because it was true. There's nothing like the enemy really hating you. And then Parcells looks at me and says, "Simms, they hate us so much they like us."

I've never forgotten that moment over all these years. It was such a rivalry, there was such passion and such respect, that Parcells' comment explains it all.

Which brings me to another great rivalry involving Parcells and the Redskins: The Dallas Cowboys travel to Washington to play the Redskins on Monday night this week. It's a classic NFL rivalry that has been under the radar in recent years, but certainly will be rekindled now that Joe Gibbs is back coaching the Redskins.

There should be a lot of talk about the game this week, and about Gibbs and Parcells -- rightly so, because they've earned it.

Gibbs told his players earlier this year he's embarrassed about how all the talk and all the hype this season has been centered around him. But that's nobody's fault but his own. That's what happens when you go to four Super Bowls and win three of them.

We live in a world that loves winners, where there is so much emphasis on winning -- much more than during Gibbs' first coaching tenure. Back then, you could get a lot of credit for having a winning record and making the playoffs on a consistent basis. These days, that's not enough. It's all about getting to the big one, and winning the big one. Every team in football is measured now by one standard: Did you win the Super Bowl?

The Philadelphia Eagles have been to the NFC title game three years in a row. And it's almost looked upon as a mark against them, because they lost all three times. Getting to the conference championship game three years in a row? That's pretty awesome in this day and age of player movement and salary-cap limits and media pressure. Quite an accomplishment. But it's generally viewed as being a failure.

Which makes a Gibbs-Parcells matchup all the more exciting. Between the two, they have been to seven Super Bowls, winning five.

There is tremendous pride from both of these men. They won't say it, but of course it's special for either one of them to beat the other. Gosh, when I was playing, I absolutely got more thrill out of beating Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins than I did in beating, say, a struggling team with a coach that was going to be fired at the end of the year. There's just nothing like beating the best. And I think they both know they are coaching against one of the best in the profession.

And this rivalry will only continue to get better. Both teams seem to be heading in the right direction. After doing the Dallas game last week, I will say this: The potential is really there for the Cowboys to have a terrific offense. Their offense is very diverse and extremely explosive. Somehow, they've taken about 65 points in the first two games and turned it into 36. But it was hard -- they had to fumble and take some dumb penalties to keep the scoring down. But you can see they have the ability to make a lot of plays and score a lot of points. And the defense is definitely fast and good.

The Redskins have more questions than the Cowboys, but one thing they have going for them here is home-field advantage. FedEx Field, with Joe Gibbs back as coach, has become a tremendous home-field environment for this team.

They had over 90,000 for the home opener two weeks ago, which is awesome. My son, Chris, was there on the sidelines for the Bucs-Redskins game, and about his only comment to me was, "It was really, really loud." He couldn't get over how loud it was -- and he was a spectator many times in RFK for the Giants-Redskins games when I was playing.

So the game Monday night should be fun. And you know both coaches will determined to win

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