Coughlin had long sessions with reporters that regularly cover the team. He formed a leadership council to listen to what players think. He took the players bowling as a break during training camp.
Coughlin insists he didn't change. He simply says he strived to communicate better.
"You can't change who you are or what you believe in," Coughlin said. "But it was important to explain why I did things, not just say what we were doing."
Said linebacker Antonio Pierce, "It got us closer together. It let us see a different side of coach. Whenever you have your head coach bowling – and he wasn't just throwing strikes, trust me, he had a lot of gutter balls – whenever you see your coach doing that, getting more involved and being more personable you have a better understanding of who he is, instead of a just rough and tough head coach who is yelling and screaming."
Asked if it's easier to play for Coughlin now, Pierce said, "It's not easier to play, but it makes you fight harder for that guy. It makes you understand what he really wants and what he's really about. When somebody's yelling at you and you don't understand them as a person, you take everything they say to heart, you take it personal. When you understand them and the reason why they're doing it, it makes it a little bit easier to work for him."
It was Coughlin who approached Pierce before flying to Arizona and told him he was responsible for the dress code for the trip. Pierce and some other players came up with wearing black suits, which about 80-90 percent of the team followed.
Said wide receiver Plaxico Burress, "This is what our team is all about. It is about everybody being together all the time, not just when we are out on the football field."
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
Each year TV Azteca in Mexico sends a beautiful woman to ask questions at Media Day. This year, Inez Gomez was resplendent in all white with a veil, as if she was getting married.
So it was that Gomez asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick if he thought Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would marry her. Belichick said that was up to Brady. When Gomez then asked, "Am I better looking than Giselle (Bundchen, Brady's girlfriend)?" Belichick said defiantly, "I wouldn't go that far."
AN AMERICAN IDOL
Kelly Pickler, one of the popular finalists on American Idol last year, was working Media Day for The Tonight Show. At one point, she had Giants fullback Madison Hedgecock try on her red high heels to give him the experience of walking in a woman's shoes.
Hedgecock had a tough time fitting, but managed to do it.
By the way, Pickler is a lot shorter than she looks on TV and is no more than 5-feet-1.
BRADY ON MOSS
Brady remains impressed with the excellence of wide receiver Randy Moss.
New England QB Tom Brady
Stephan Savoia/AP Images
Said Brady, "I think the thing people don't realize about Randy is his understanding of the game. He is the smartest offensive football player I've ever been around from his understanding of the receiver position, his understanding of football, how to get open, how to manipulate his routes, to how to change up his speed,
"He knows when to expect the ball as well, based on the route that is called and the coverage that is played. He's been an incredible player. He's had an incredible attitude. He's practiced hard every day. You should have seen him running around yesterday. He is flying down the field. This is our 115th practice and he's still out there like it's mini-camp."
Question: Does Brady really know that was the team's 115th practice? Probably.
A young reporter with an ESPN microphone asked Coughlin why he's so much nicer this year. Coughlin asked the boy, Jason Krause, who put him up to asking the question. To which, he honestly said, "My producer." Krause then said, "You're nicer than Bill Belichick," to which Coughlin said, "Will that count for any points Sunday?" …
Belichick was asked what's the most important thing for a player on Sunday. Said Belichick, "Do your job and play well. What else is there?" …
Quarterback Eli Manning on the guarantee Jets quarterback Joe Namath made for Super Bowl III: "Joe Namath was a great, confident man. That was then, this is now. I am not going to guarantee anything." …
Patriots assistant strength and conditioning coach Don Davis was asked if, with one game remaining, the Patriots allow themselves to consider their accomplishment if they win the championship and finish the season 19-0. Said Davis, "There are three things in this game: Good, great, ever. We are shooting for ever."
Howard Balzer is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange.