Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer Michael Strahan joined “The Herd” on Thursday, and in examining the gruff image that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick projects, Strahan explained how he and his Giants teammates had a rocky relationship with head coach Tom Coughlin.
“I would imagine [Coughlin] was probably worse than anyone could thing Belichick would be. Because Belichick’s players love him, and it’s almost like a public persona that he gives off.
“But Coughlin, we hated him. And it was real. It was no public persona. We hated the man. But now he learned that you can be tough, everybody’s going to have the same goal — to win — but you have to let [people] know you’re human. You have to know I care about you. And once he learned to let us know he cared about us, we loved him.
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“Did he bark a lot?
“He used to. And then he’d walk around with a clipboard and just check — you never knew what he was writing down. And then you’d get a letter talking about your socks are too low and it’s 500 bucks.
“One time he walked up to Chris Snee, who was his son-in-law, and he thought nobody saw it. But he was like he’s checking something off [the clipboard] and talking to him, ‘Uh, you coming over for dinner tonight?’ “
Strahan said that, as a veteran, his teammates came to him for advice on how to deal with Coughlin — and everything changed after one meeting he had with his coach.
Colin Cowherd: “Why do you think he turned? What turned it?”
Michael Strahan: “I think we weren’t winning, guys were very unhappy. I think he had quite a few rifts with quite a few players, myself included. And one of the last conversations I had with him that turned our relationship is when I told him, ‘Well, all the players are coming to me asking me what’s going on, and I’m trying to relay it to you.’
“And all he would say to me is, ‘I hear you. I hear you. I hear you.’
“I said, ‘Well you keep telling me you hear me, but you’re not doing anything about it. So I consider [it] you’re just dismissing me. You’re dismissing me, coach. But I’m going to tell you one thing, you’re losing this team. Do you hear that?’
“And from then on, it was different. Like a lightbulb went off on him, a lightbulb went off on our team, and we turned it around.
“… I don’t think there’s a player who played for him after that who did not appreciate what he went through [to change], who didn’t learn something from him.”