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The Zen of Coughlin

A great profile of Tom Coughlin, the long-serving coach of the NY Giants, in today’s NY Times. Coughlin’s habits suggest he would have made a great salesman. He is a stickler for rules and routines, and a believer in the power of motivational speeches. While all around him teams and coaches search for the next new thing in the NFL, Coughlin sticks to the tried and true.

“Taught by his father, a World War II veteran, Coughlin liked to be in charge: he was the catcher on the high school baseball team, the point guard on the basketball team and the captain of the football team. Rules and accountability, his friends said, pervaded his life.

Over time, his contemporaries say, Coughlin came to view his rules as producing more than just discipline. They are a key to consistency, and to Coughlin consistency leads to routine, and routine leads to preparedness, and preparedness leads to proper execution.”

The piece also quotes the former Giants executive Ernie Accorsi who says that the finest NFL coaches have always had one common trait: very high intelligence.

“Vince Lombardi taught high school chemistry, Bill Walsh could have been a college professor, and Paul Brown qualified for the Rhodes scholarship. Tom Coughlin is in that mold. It’s his intelligence and football knowledge that has made him successful.”

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