In a world and a sports scene increasingly full of self-aggrandizing phonies, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin is the real deal. He says what he feels, stands by what he believes and puts on no airs. He's refreshing for this, and the acclaim he's received after coolly and brilliantly coaching his Giants to a second Super Bowl title in five years has had the rare quality of being universally hailed as well deserved.
Coughlin's genuine away from the football field too, and that's a big reason why he was in Virginia on Wednesday night to be honored by the U.S. Army for his volunteer work with military personnel, veterans and wounded soldiers. Coughlin and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh were honored at the ceremony, and Coughlin said he was humbled to receive the Outstanding Civilian Service Award. Per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post:
"When the general was standing there reading off that stuff about me, it was almost like I was saying to myself, 'Who's he talking about?'" Coughlin told The Post after the hour-long celebration overlooking the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.
"It was unbelievable to me," continued Coughlin, who was accompanied to the event by wife Judy. "The patriotism just came pouring out of me with all of the pomp and circumstance and standing there next to a four-star general. That's what you call humbling."
The Army honored Coughlin for allowing soldiers and the families to attend practices and games, for repeatedly visiting wounded soldiers at both Walter Reed Medical Center and other installations and for flying to Iraq in 2009 as part of a USO tour with John Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden.
Again, the real deal. Coughlin doesn't make a show of having military personnel at his games and practices. He'll drop a line here and there to make sure they're recognized and thanked for their service, but it comes from the heart. He feels this stuff deeply, and there's no doubt he means it when he says the ceremony Wednesday night ranked among his great professional thrills. The general who oversaw the ceremony, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond T. Odierno, is a Giants fan from New Jersey. But he said that had nothing to do with the fact that Coughlin was honored.
"You're talking about someone who has really dedicated himself over a long period of time to caring about our soldiers and their families," Onierno told The Post. "His dedication to the military is quite significant."
Asked jokingly if the fact he also bleeds Giant blue had anything to do with Coughlin's award, Odierno smiled and shook his head.
"Absolutely nothing to do with that," he said. "Absolutely everything to do with what he's done for the military."
Not much more to say on this. I just really thought it was worth writing about, in case you guys missed it.