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1. Bill Parcells
USA TODAY Sports
"I'm going to go back to the recruiting and, I mean, I'm going way back, is when Coach Parcells came into recruit me," Culley said. "Again, I was being recruited at Vanderbilt University at the time. He had just come in to become the defense coordinator. Steve Sloan was the head coach.
"And I can remember the first time I met him. I met him at the Holidome. I don't know if they still have Holidomes anymore. I remember coming and sitting down and talking with him, and I knew then, when I sat down and started talking with him, I felt like, at that time as an 18-year-old, there's something special about this guy. And to move forward with that, obviously, I saw the right things as an athlete in knowing that this guy was an excellent football coach and a teacher, and he convinced me that I wanted to be part of that.
"But before he convinced me that I wanted to be a part of that, he ended up giving me a nickname and he nicknamed me ‘Double Cross.’ And don't take this the wrong way, he ended up giving me the nickname ‘Double Cross’ simply because at that time, back in the 1972, 1973 when this is all going process, you could sign with two or three different conferences as long as it wasn't on the National Letter Day, if you all remember that. These kids today have no idea about that. But at that point, I ended up signing, if I remember correctly, it was Middle Tennessee State University during what they call the Letter of Intent Day.
"Well, when you sign, when you did that, that just meant that you were a part of — that conference couldn't recruit you no more. Well, I just remember once I signed with them, I ended up getting a phone call later from Coach Parcells and he just said to me, ‘David, I thought we had a situation where that, you know, you were going to be a Vanderbilt Commodore.’
"I said, ‘Coach, I am. I do understand the rules. I have signed with Middle Tennessee State University. I thought at that time that was the best thing for me, but when it gets down to the end, if you are what you say you are to me, which I believe you are, I'm going to be a Vanderbilt Commodore.’
"So at that time when I said that, well, he says, ‘You know what? You just double-crossed Middle Tennessee State University.’ So at that point, that name has stuck with me, so every conversation I've had with Coach Parcells when I talk to him, he always, first thing he says to me, is ‘Double Cross.’ I say, ‘Coach, that's been 30 years ago. I don't do that anymore.’ I say, ‘My word is my word now.’ But that was my first interaction with him, but obviously everybody knows his career, his Hall of Fame career.
"I knew back then at that time that this guy was special and obviously if you go through his career now, you see that that's what it was. And you know what? That's something I wanted to be. I felt like that I wanted to be something like that. As I played for him and that team, I really began to understand what that was all about."
2. Dee Harris
Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel-Imagn Content Services, LLC
"The second thing was, when I got that degree, my goal was to come back to White County High School in Sparta, Tennessee, and be an assistant coach for the guy that coached me, and that's Dee Harris," said Culley. "And I said that's always been my goal. Now, that's been a long time ago, but I still tell people to this day every time I go back home, one day I still may coach at White County High School. I may be 80 years old when I do, but I still may coach at White County High School. And if I do, I don't need to be the head coach. I just want to coach simply because of back when I was in Sparta, Tennessee, everything I am today has come from that town, those people. "You know, you always hear, it takes a village to raise someone. I'm a perfect example of that and that happened for me back in Sparta, Tennessee. So at this point, I've carried that with me and I've carried that with every job I had. I basically, from that, basically became a teacher. My job happens to be teacher. I just happen to coach football. But here's the thing about that when I say about a job. I've been in this business 43 years. "I do not consider what I do a job. This is a passion for me. So the only job I've ever had, I had a job when I was at Vanderbilt during the summer. I worked for North American Van Lines moving people, and I wasn't very good at it when I did it. So at this point, I realized what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and then I've gotten to this point right now because of those lessons that I've learned there."
3. Andy Reid
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
And as I moved across this profession, Nick (Caserio) just mentioned some guys that have been very influential with me during this business," said Culley. "I was very fortunate that in 1999 to become a part of Andy Reid's staff. I was very fortunate to be able to move with him to Kansas City. "From there, I was able to go on and move to Buffalo with Sean McDermott, and then from there with John Harbaugh. You say, OK, moving, you don't, I actually spent 18 years with Andy. But at some point, I said to myself, there's something about what we do here. What I found was, there was a consistency and there was a trust that he had and all those people that Nick mentioned earlier they had, that allowed their franchises to be successful. "As you look today, the common thread with all of that is there as I've gone through that process from Kansas City, to Buffalo, to Baltimore and as everybody knows, it works, and that's who I am. That's who I am. And that same thing, I'm bringing here to the Houston Texans because I know it works, and it's going to work here with us.”