Wallace Gilberry is one of two players on the field this week that have played for both Marvin Lewis and Tom Coughlin.
On Tuesday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis won't have to beat Giants head coach Tom "If You're On Time You're Late," Coughlin to the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields. Everyone knows the joint workouts begin at 3 p.m.
"I have so much respect for Coach Coughlin," said Lewis as he prepared to host a future Hall-of-Fame coach for two days.
Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp practice at Paul Brown Stadium practice fields 08/10/2015
Lewis has to smile. When he was the Ravens defensive coordinator and Coughlin was the head coach of the Jaguars, they would run into each other down south on the scouting road. If Lewis knew he and Coughlin were on the same schedule, such as leaving the University of North Carolina to be at North Carolina State the next day, Lewis would try to beat Coughlin to the school the next morning in a monumental task against the NFL's notorious early-riser.
"He gets up early and he'd be there at 6, 6:30," Lewis said. "He'd see me and say, 'Coach, did you get your run in?' I wanted to beat him. You'd have to get up at 5, work out, and then get to the school. I beat him once. And I think he noticed."
Lewis is 2-1 against Coughlin and beat him out to be the head coach of the Bengals in 2003, when Coughlin interviewed with the club after the Jaguars let him go. Coughlin went on to become the coach of the Giants in 2004 and has won two Super Bowls. Lewis says he's never thought about what would have happened if things flipped and he ended up in New York while Coughlin went to Cincinnati.
Just as well. Probably a waste of time. Lewis is a fit with the Bengals and Coughlin fits the Giants. Only Bill Belichick, in his 16th season in New England, has currently been an NFL head coach with the same team longer. You won't find two more highly-regarded coaches in the league than Lewis, 56, and Coughlin, who turns 69 at the end of the month.
Coughlin, red and all, is the face of the old school. And Lewis loves watching it work.
"He's done a tremendous job there. They've won two Super Bowls. They've done the things we have hoped to do here," Lewis said. "He's demanding and consistent. No matter what players say, they just want consistency. Certain things are important to him and are always going to be important to him. The players and the coaches know what they are. He doesn't change. He doesn't go up and down. He's very consistent."
Almost immediately when the preseason schedule came out last spring with the Giants opening at PBS in a 7:30 Friday night game, Coughlin called Lewis to bat around the idea of joint practices.
"He asked me what I thought about it," Lewis said. "He's not done it in a while. And a lot of people are doing it and he wondered if we had done it and what my thoughts were."
Lewis told him he had done it twice (hosting New Orleans in 2007 and traveling to Atlanta in 2013) and he thought it was beneficial.
"To me, it gives the skill guys such a good look at somebody else. The reaction time. It's like preparing you to play the opening games because you have to play something you're not used to. We're going to face stuff we're not used to facing. You have to react. The fundamentals and principles of what you've been taught come into play."
Coughlin and Lewis have a good feel for each other even though it's been almost 20 years sinceLewis tried to beat him to school. They both came into their jobs tethered to No. 1 pick quarterbacks and their best teams have had ferocious defensive lines that went after the passer. Lewis has won 100 games in 12 seasons, Coughlin 104 in 11 in New York.
"They ran the ball so well in Jacksonville and he had an efficient quarterback in (Mark) Brunell,' said Lewis, who has a similar vibe going with Andy Dalton and Jeremy Hill.
Bengals defensive linemen Wallace Gilberry is the only Bengal to play for Coughlin and Giants right tackle Marshall Newhouse is the only Giant to play for Lewis. Gilberry was an undrafted rookie in 2008 with New York and stayed on their practice squad until the Chiefs signed him in mid-season.
"I loved him. He's the guy that taught me, 'If you're on time, you're late.' That's one of the things he harped on. It stuck with me," Gilberry said. "He's a good coach. He's still doing it.
"I don't do compare and contrast. Both those guys are different in their own right and I respect both of them the same. They're both player's coaches."
And both saw what happened over the weekend when Washington and the Texans brawled. Lewis indicated he and Coughlin have been in touch since and plan to reiterate to their coaches and players that's a big no-no.
It's an easy phone call. They've spent some time off the field together, including at the relaxed league spring meeting, where Peggy and Marvin Lewis have had occasions to chat with Judy and Tom Coughlin.
"I went down to Jacksonville and had a great time at his charity golf tournament two years ago. It worked out because it was a weekend we didn't have ours,' said Lewis of the Marvin Lewis Golf Classic. "He's just a fun guy and Judy and his daughters are so great. Just tremendous people and he's good for football."
Don't be surprised if Lewis gets out to the practice field a little early Tuesday and Wednesday.