Tom Coughlin is the most unlikely hero on the New York sports scene, which demands glitz, splash, flash, and histrionics at every turn.
But Coughlin, who coached the New York Giants to the Super Bowl victory on Sunday, should be hailed as a hero. Coughlin, 65 years old, was branded as a relic, a flop, a failure for most of his team's often-perplexing season.
Savvy football fans knew well that Coughlin was coaching only a shred of his real team because so many of his top offensive and defensive players were sidelined with nagging injuries.
Once the Giants' players got over their aches and pains, the team proved nearly unbeatable. It demonstrated that a team can be very tough to beat when it steps up and acts like a real TEAM, and not a collection of divas and individuals.
Coughlin is responsible for molding and crafting the Giants into a Super Bowl-worthy squad.
Coughlin led the Giants to the Super Bowl triumph of the ages in February 2008 — so he had nothing to prove this year. Four years ago the Giants were 14-point underdogs to the Patriots, who entered that memorable game with a phenomenal 18-0 record. Coughlin tirelessly preached teamwork to that upstart team as well, and achieved spectacular results.
For what it's worth, Coughlin has also showed the value of bending with the times. A disciplinarian to the core, Coughlin had a reputation for being a drill sergeant. In the process, he turned off and disillusioned many of his Giants veterans.
When the team leaders urged Coughlin to loosen the reins, he took the hint and did just that. This is the mark of a true leader.
Coughlin has a lot to offer. We can learn from his example.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch. Click here to read his latest column.
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