Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

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Coughlin and Belichick: Different cuts from same cloth

INDIANAPOLIS Bill Belichick might have written the book on dour, but Tom Coughlin had the market cornered on being square.

If one coach in the NFL looks like a dark socks and sandals at the beach type, its Coughlin.

Hes always been all business. Glasses. The thinning white hair swept to the side. Fast walker. That air of slight impatience as he rocks side-to-side in press conferences that are long on business, short on laughs.

The guy who long believed five minutes early is on time and four minutes early is actually late doesnt have a cool, away-from-football alter ego like Belichick does tooling around Nantucket on his boat with Jon Bon Jovi in tow.

So its interesting to see the controlling Coughlin not just tolerating his players verbal brashness but in some cases jumping in himself.

While the Patriots are still name, rank and serial number for the most part under Belichick, the Giants make more guarantees than Bobs Furniture.

And Coughlin has at times gotten a tad brash himself. Relatively speaking. After the Giants win over the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau Field last month, Coughlin said in the postgame, I think were a dangerous team. I like where we are.

This week, while Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz have taken turns disparaging Patriots wideoutDB Julian Edelman and Antrel Rolle has been doling out guarantees, Coughlin hasnt told anyone to dummy up.

Has Coughlin changed?

Probably, but I think its important as the process of learning, Coughlin said. You learn, develop, and change every year. You have to bring a fresh approach each year to your team, especially when youve been doing it a few years in the same place. If Ive changed, its been an attempt to motivate and put us in the best possible chance that we can be.

And Coughlin seems to believe that letting his team be itself and forge its own personality is the best way for it to motivate itself. Its a supremely confident team, especially for a group that went 9-7 and had a four-game losing streak that had them on the verge of missing the playoffs.

But that confidence also allows it to forget about the bumps and then go into Lambeau or San Francisco and win.

Coughlins approach is a galaxy removed from the other head football coach in New York, Rex Ryan, whos willingness to let whatever hits his brain exit his mouth was happily adopted by his players when he joined the team in 2009 and resulted in a 2011 implosion.

But Coughlin does let the players express themselves.

Players have personalities and they are who they are, Coughlin noted. You want a certain amount of that on your football team, but you dont want someone who puts themselves in a position to hurt your team.

Coughlin has positive proof that allowing his players to be brash helps them. In 2007, they talked themselves into the notion the Patriots 18-0 coming into that Super Bowl were a dynasty that needed to be buried.

They showed up in Arizona dressed in black a funeral for the dynasty was their reasoning. And they went out and backed up their brashness with one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

Coughlins players say he really isnt as bad as his reputation.

My first season I questioned a lot of things that Coach Coughlin was doing, said Rolle. After taking a step back and reflecting on all of it, I understand exactly why he is the way he is. I used to always wonder, I felt like he was always trying to turn us into men. Does he not know that we are men before we ever step on the football field here as a Giant? I used to ask myself questions like that. Once I matured enough and I took a step back, he is not trying to turn us into men, he is trying to help us become better men.

The buy-in from his team is apparent in the way they revere him. After the Giants beat the Patriots in November, they carried him off the field on their shoulders.

When Coach Coughlin comes up, everybody wants to talk about how rough he is, how unforgiving he is, how the reigns are pulled back pretty tight on the football team, but playing for him is golden for me, said defensive end Justin Tuck. You know exactly what to expect from him, you know what he expects from you. Its easy to go out and do your job when you dont have to go out and worry about what we are doing here, what are we doing there. I love playing for the guy, and I hope I get to play the rest of my career for him.

While Belichick are both regarded as branches on the Bill Parcells coaching tree, its not that cut-and-dried.

Belichick is more a disciple of Paul Brown, the man Belichicks father Steve emulated.

Brown is credited with saying, When you win say nothing. When you lose say less.

Belichicks passed that on to his team and they adhere to it. The penalty for too much verbosity? An uncomfortable trip to the coachs office.

While Coughlin says hes become more patient and less rigid, Belichick doesnt alter his approach too much.

Hes very consistent as a coach, said Tom Brady. On our team, there really is no separate treatment for different players. The rookies are expected to perform and act the same as the veteran guys. Its great as a player on our team because . . . you really dont have to hold the other players accountable because the head coach does it. Hes very tough. He says to us from time to time he understands that its a demanding place to play and that its really not meant for everybody.

Belichick doesnt hide his agenda.

Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis acknowledged when he came to New England that hed heard Belichick was a hard coach to play for and the hooded monster and all the stuff like that. When I got here, I realized in our first meeting, he let it all out on the line right there. You are what you are when you get here. That was it. He let it all hang.

His players will never get to hang loose with their words say nothing when you win, say less when you lose. The Giants? The muzzles are off.

The methods to their madness have brought their teams here. Whose method works best? Can the answer be both?

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Friday, Feb. 24: 'Slap Shot' turns 40

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while always holding a special place in my heart for Dickie Dunn as my favorite "Slap Shot" character. If Dickie Dunn wrote it, then it must be true.

*The ESPN hockey crew puts together some of their best scenes and favorite lines from "Slap Shot" as the movie hits 40 years old. I was first introduced to Slap Shot in my high school years and I liked it for the Hanson Brothers as much as for anything else, but that is a movie that just gets better and better every time I watch it. And I’ve watched it dozens and dozens of times. God bless Paul Newman for agreeing to lend his Hollywood star power to such a crazy, hilarious and raucous love letter to hockey.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Brian Wilde is recognizing the limitations of the Canadiens even under new coach Claude Julien.

*Bryan Bickell is stepping even closer to a return to the Carolina Hurricanes as he battles through his MS diagnosis.

*Kevin Shattenkirk apparently turned down a sign-and-trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, and also turned down a chance to get dealt to the Edmonton Oilers last summer as well. I think the Blues D-man has a short list of teams he wants to sign with as a free agent, and neither one of those teams is on the list.

*Darren Dreger weighs in on Shattenkirk as well, and the price tag of a top prospect, first-round pick and NHL player for the puck-moving rental D-man seems very excessive.

*Things are coming to a head with Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres as he takes his play to a high level in Buff over the last few months.

*Interesting piece on Ed Snider’s daughter becoming an advocate for medicinal marijuana after his father’s health battles.

*For something completely different: Looks like a new season of "The Voice" coming our way.


 

'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

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'Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?'

I grew up playing sports. For the most part I played soccer, but I also ran cross-country and track, I skied, snowboarded, and, at one point, I tried gymnastics. (It wasn't pretty.) My two younger sisters did the same. Our parents ran themselves ragged driving us to practices and tournaments, arranging carpools and fundraisers.

It never crossed our minds that we were girls playing sports. It's just what we did. And we loved it!

I didn't realize how lucky I was until visiting my grandparents in rural Ohio one summer. I found an old photo of their high school graduating class. I asked my grandmother what sports she played in school and I'll never forget her answer: "Oh, there were no sports for girls back then. We could cheer for the boys basketball team, but that was it."

I was shocked. I thought that was ridiculous. Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys? I couldn't comprehend it.

Looking back, I'm so thankful I grew up in a time and environment where that wasn't the case. I can't imagine my life without sports. Not only because it's what I do for a living, but because playing sports throughout my childhood is a big part of what made me the person I am today.

Sports taught me the value of hard work. Being part of a team, I learned how to communicate and work with people to accomplish a common goal . . . and discovered just how gratifying the process can be. I became a teammate and leader who earned respect and empowered others. I made lasting friendships while stuffed like a sardine in a travel van singing Ace of Base at the top of my lungs. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. And I certainly wouldn't be in the position I'm in without them.

Don't get me wrong; it hasn't all been positive. Now that I'm a woman working in sports, I've had other kinds of eye-opening moments. During an interview for my first on-air job I was asked, in so many words, if this is really a career for me or if I had other plans after I found a husband. Once I did land a job, I covered many college football games by myself. There was one small school in particular whose players relentlessly catcalled me on the sidelines. I won't repeat the foul things they said, but I can tell you I went home feeling very dirty (and it wasn't because I  was pouring sweat after lugging a camera that weighed half as much as I did from end zone to end zone in the middle of an Alabama summer). Even now, every so often, social media has a special way of reminding me how some people still view women in sports. Surprise -- it's not good.

But if that's the worst I have to go through, I know I can't complain. My only focus is doing my job to the very best of my abilities and working as hard as I possibly can to continue to grow and get better. We've come a long way. I'm so grateful for those who blazed the trail and made it possible for me to do what I do. And, thanks to my grandmother, I will never take my opportunities for granted. My hope is that when my daughter grows up, she will be just as surprised and appalled by some of my bad experiences as I was talking to my grandmother that day.