Coughlin gushes about Michael Strahan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are not traveling to Canton, Ohio, this weekend just to play in the Hall of Fame game.

They're also going there to celebrate one of their own.

Former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan is one of seven players being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin had plenty of praise for Strahan following practice Tuesday afternoon.

"Incredible pride, just incredible pride," said Coughlin, when asked to share his thoughts on Strahan's upcoming enshrinement. "Michael Strahan was a great football player. He had that ability -- he was taught right in the very beginning. He practiced hard, he ran to the ball, he was a great example for all the younger guys about doing that.

"He was excellent in the classroom. He was a dynamic leader -- he had one of those magnetic personalities, everyone was attracted to him. He was a superb player on the field against both the pass and the run."

Coughlin coached Strahan for the final four seasons of Strahan's 15-year career. But the two did not get along at the beginning. Strahan rebelled against Coughlin's strict style of team management. In fact, Strahan has admitted he "hated" Coughlin at the start.

But by the time Strahan retired in 2007, following the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over the New England Patriots, the five-time All-Pro said he wouldn't have played for any other coach again.

"We didn’t necessarily see eye to eye right away, but thank goodness we won Michael over when we spent some time together and went through some times that were good and bad," Coughlin said. "I think that he appreciated the fact that what we were trying to do was in the best interest of everybody and our team being the best it could be. And he became an outstanding captain, very good in the leadership council, did a great job with us that way."

Strahan, who continues to hold the NFL's single-season sacks record (22.5 in 2001), and is fifth in career sacks with 141.5, will become the 17th Giants player enshrined in Canton, not including former owners Tim and Wellington Mara and former coach Bill Parcells.

Coughlin is planning to take the current Giants through the Hall of Fame on Saturday, the day before their preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, and then stay for the enshrinement ceremony in the evening.

"It's a wonderful feeling," Coughlin said of having a former player going into the Hall. "Shared by our whole staff, but a great feeling."