New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin will be one of five current or former NFL coaches participating in the NFL-USO Coaches Tour of Iraq later this month.
"This is something I've wanted to do for years," Coughlin told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, "and I can't tell you how excited I am, and all the coaches are, to be making this trip. It's a great chance for us to recognize the real heroes of this country. Our troops need to know how much we appreciate what they're doing, and I mean every one of us in the NFL and every one of us in the country.
According to a release from the Giants, Coughlin was already planning a trip to Iraq before he was asked to join the NFL tour.
"I have always had a great of deal of admiration and respect for the sacrifices that people who serve our country in the military make. In my time it was the Viet Nam War. I was not a service man; I was not in the military. It was all by lottery and things of that nature. But today, these people who are in Iraq and Afghanistan are volunteers. To spend time with them is to be able to sense the intelligence and the passion of these people and to stand in admiration and awe of this combination. Because, in the business I am in, you try to figure out what makes people tick and what makes someone an extremely successful individual in their chosen line of work or as an athlete. It is the combination of not only ability, but intelligence and determination and dedication and the heart. I have always been an admirer of those combinations. And I find them in this type of person that I’m describing to you."
Ralph Vacchiano pointed out today that Danny Clark and Osi Umenyiora of the Giants have made similar trips.
Here is another great quote from TC. It tells you a little about the man and how he has changed, and a lot about why he is seemingly so happy to make this trip.
"Maybe I’m a little bit older in life; maybe I’m looking at things a little bit differently," Coughlin said. "Maybe I’m trying to enjoy the opportunities that this wonderful position has given me to meet these kinds of people. And I don’t think it is happenstance. I relish the opportunity to meet these impressive people. Because you know what – the other thing that is so important to me, I can’t stand phonies. I can’t stand the BS that goes along with, to be honest with you, a job like this sometimes. There is none of that in any of these people, believe me. These are straight forward, honest, forthright people that cut right to the chase. I’m not interested in conversing about BS."
The others going on the trip are former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher; Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher; former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden; and Ravens coach John Harbaugh.