(Woodson, Parcells photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
Darren Woodson is more than a former star football player. He’s more than a Hall-of-Fame candidate, too. And he’s more than one of the best safeties to play for the Dallas Cowboys … or, for that matter, the NFL.
Darren Woodson is the only guy to serve under both Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson in their eras with the Cowboys. So, naturally, we wanted to know the difference in the two … and Woodson was only too happy to oblige on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“Jimmy was a guy who was a CEO-type,” said Woodson. “He led by putting pieces and parts together. Whether it be an offensive coordinator like Norv Turner – a great coach back then -- or (former offensive line coach) Tony Wise. A lot of good coaches on the offensive side of the ball that handled their business. And on the defensive side of the ball, we had Dave Wannstedt, Butch Davis, Dave Campo – coaches who went on to be head coaches in the league that came from his tree.
“Jimmy did a great job of putting these coaches together and of being able to control the attitude and personalities in the locker room. The only guy who could have ever done that was Jimmy, (and) he did it with a forceful hand. He did it with an extremely heavy hand on players … and did it out of fear. Fear was a part of it. If you were late for a meeting you may get cut. And that was the way Jimmy led his team.”
Under Johnson, Woodson won two of his three Super Bowl rings and became the first Cowboys’ safety since Cliff Harris to be named to five straight Pro Bowls. He was still with Dallas in 2003 when Parcells arrived on the scene, but he didn’t last long –sitting out the 2004 season with a herniated disc that forced his retirement a year later.
Nevertheless, he stayed long enough for his head coach to make a lasting impression.
“With Parcells,” said Woodson, “it was much different, in that Parcells was much more personable as a coach. (He was) hard on you. He treated you like a man, but he expected you to treat him with respect and treat your teammates with a lot of respect the same way.
“I can tell you one thing about Bill Parcells: I learned in two years (under him) more than I learned in my entire career. And I tell him all the time.
“I ended up getting hurt in my second year with him -- I wasn’t able to play that second year he had been with the Cowboys -- but the growth that I had under him … I felt I could’ve grown so much more if I had met him early on in my career. I would’ve been so much better of a football player all-around. Parcells was a guy who wanted me to stop covering the slot as much … and the tight end … and wanted me to play a true safety spot.
“So, to me, there was a lot of affection. He was like a father figure to me. He taught me so much about the game … and life.”