News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 1, 2012

Super Bowl coaches are no strangers

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin knows Bill Belichick very well.

Coughlin and his Super Bowl XLVI coaching counterpart were both members of Bill Parcell’s Giants coaching staff in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Belichick was New York’s defensive coordinator and also coached the team’s safeties. Coughlin, meanwhile, was in charge of the Giants’ wide receivers.

“What we did early on . . . there was a certain amount of competitiveness about the positions and the interaction of the positions. More than that, there were a spirit of cooperation. We helped each other and would act as each other’s scout squad,” the New York coach said Monday.

“We would take advantage during training camp or any opportunity we were given to work against each other, whether it would be red zone work, one-on-one, or whatever. We would show [Belichick] the design that he wanted to see and he would show us the [pass] coverage that we wanted to see. We worked well together. And I think it was a very good thing for our staff to be honest with you because our cooperation was outstanding. Both sides benefited from it.”

Since both became head coaches, that admiration continues to grow.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” Coughlin stressed. “He’s an exceptional football coach – the style and the preparation. Bill is going to work very hard, as we are, at showing you something and it really isn’t what you think it is. You really have to add an element of that into how you prepare. He’s always been an exceptional defensive coach trained by the best, [Bill] Parcells. He’s become an outstanding offensive coach and [Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady has helped him to really diversify and get into areas offensively that only lead to the particular strengths of the individuals involved. He’s done a very good job of that.”

Weatherford gets praise – Former Terre Haute North punter Steve Weatherford is playing in his first Super Bowl. And nobody could be happier for Weatherford than his coach.

“We knew him as an excellent athlete. He’s a guy who comes very well prepared, is energetic, an exceptional weight room worker and a good example for a conditioning guy. All you need to do is look outside my office window and there he is. Mondays, Tuesdays he’s out there running and doing extra conditioning. He’s come on and he’s worked very hard to be the style of punter that we would employ as a Giants punter,” Coughlin said.

“He’s done a good job of that. He’s become proficient as a directional punter. And I think he’s improved as the year has gone along. He adds an excitement to our team in that he’s been to four [conference] championship games and not advanced to the Super Bowl. He’s very, very excited to be a part of this Super Bowl team.”

Eli Manning recalls Peyton's learning lesson – Giants quarterback Eli Manning was asked what he remembered most growing up as Peyton Manning’s little brother.

“His most popular move: He would pin me down and take his knuckles and knock on my chest and make me name the 12 schools in the SEC [Southeastern Conference]. I didn’t know them all at the time, but I quickly learned them,” Eli recalled.

“It was a great learning technique. I don’t suggest anyone else try it out, but it definitely made me learn the schools of the SEC. Once I figured those out, he moved on. There was 28 teams in the NFL at that point, so all the teams in the NFL; I had to get my studying on for that. The one I never got was the 10 brands of cigarettes. When he really wanted to torture me and knew I had no shot at ever getting it, that’s when I just started screaming for my mom and dad to come save me. Or maybe [older brother] Cooper. That was [Peyton’s] go-to move.”

Great Christmas gift – After Eli Manning was taken with the first pick of the 2004 NFL draft, Peyton bought him a new computer for Christmas.

“He bought me a computer that stores all our software to watch [game and practice] film at home,” Eli said, adding that when he was in high school Peyton would work with him as well.

“He would want to do anything for me to be a better quarterback, to help me play at a high level. He has been very helpful at that.”