Having played for Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells, John Hall has experienced two paths to coaching genius.
"They both kind of let you know where you stand," the Washington Redskins kicker said, "but in different ways."
Gibbs and Parcells face each other for the first time since 1990 when the Redskins host the Cowboys tonight, renewing a rivalry of two highly successful coaches who are similar, yet so different.
"They are the same in the fact that they are both very meticulous," said Hall, who played for Parcells with the Jets from 1997-99. "They cover every detail of the game, every detail, no matter how small it is. They surround themselves with good coaches, people who know football."
There's more. Both are 63. Both are workaholics who have battled health problems (Parcells has had heart surgeries; Gibbs has diabetes). Both retired from coaching only to discover an irresistible urge to return. Both have won Super Bowls and are among the top five in career victories among active coaches.
But anyone who has spent more than five minutes with both quickly realizes their completely divergent personalities. Gibbs comes across as soft-spoken and humble. Parcells is loud and prickly. No one will ever mistake them for golf buddies.
"I'm sure they have tremendous respect for each other," Hall said. "But they're probably not going to hang out in the same circles."
And when it comes to handling players, there's no contest who makes the bigger splash.
"Bill's more psychological," Hall said. "He's not afraid to use mind tactics, and I don't mean that in a negative way at all. He doesn't do things to be a jerk. He does things to see what kind of reaction he's going to get from you or how you handle things.
"Gibbs, he doesn't yell a lot. Gibbs wants everything done fast and quick, and when you're out there you're working hard. And once it's over, it's over. Bill's been known to walk out of practice and let us coach ourselves."
Redskins guard Randy Thomas, who spent one season with Parcells' Jets, was more succinct.
"Parcells, if you mess up so many times, he's going to get in your face, point, bring you to the stage and let everybody know," Thomas said. "Gibbs, he'll probably pull you aside and tell you what you need to do."