Coughlin's opening words

The Giants offseason workout program kicked off Monday morning, March 22 and, according to new coach Tom Coughlin, it couldn't have come soon enough. <BR><BR>

"I told our team how excited I was," Coughlin said. "I was as excited to speak to them this morning as I was on January 7 when I was honored to be introduced as the next head coach of the New York Giants. I wanted my team to understand that: how proud I am to be a member of the New York Giants and how much I hold in respect this franchise. And our number one objective is to restore the pride – the self-pride and the team pride – in this organization.

"I talked about the process – the cycle of process – toward restoring that pride and getting back to the kind of football we want to play, which starts right now. We don't play a game Sunday. It is a marathon and not a sprint, but it begins with the strength and conditioning program. And it is much more than a strength and conditioning program. It not only develops the body, but it develops the mind. It is a difficult program. If it wasn't hard, anybody could do it. "

The schedule

During the offseason program, the players will work out on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. There will be three sessions each morning at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for the players and Coughlin would like them to eat at least one meal at the stadium, so the team can get a gauge on each player's diet.

Coughlin said players can make up no more than two missed workouts on Wednesday. According to Coughlin, the reason for giving the players Wednesday off as opposed to Friday is because players shouldn't work out four days in a row and then be off three consecutive days.

The players are required to be present for two hours a day; as opposed to last year's 45-minute sessions.

The message

"What we're trying to do is to strengthen the power of will," Coughlin said. "We've asked the players when they come in everyday to try and do a little bit more than they think is possible, that was basically our starting point.

"We talked about the attitude, the development of professional growth here from the standpoint of improvement of learning and of preparation. We talked about the development of professional relationships here based on trust – of course all relationships are based on that. Can I trust you? Can you trust me? And how there is a price to pay to get to that point. Of course we begin that process right now.

"We talked a lot about priorities. The players' priority and my priority need to be the same, and that is that we do everything in our power to use our God-given ability to be the best football player we can possibly be. If a player exemplifies that, then he is never going to have a problem with me. My problem is that people have to be honest with themselves and with me. If people are late and not giving us great effort, if the approach is not with a proper attitude, then it doesn't sound to me like that is the priority of the player: to be the best that he can be."

The attendance

Coughlin said all 57 players that were expected to be on hand were. He said that he'd spoken to approximately 35 of them before the opening of the program.

"We've had 30 people working at the stadium," he said.

In a very interesting twist, one of the players Coughlin had not yet hooked up with was QB Kerry Collins.

"It was basically an introductory conversation about being excited to get things going and I told him those were my feelings as well," Collins said. "There really wasn't a whole lot to it – just your basic introductory conversation."

The reaction

"I think we all had expectations about Coach Coughlin and about what this program was going to be like," running back Tiki Barber said. "And it is different. Change is not a bad thing. Anytime you have a change you never really know what to expect until it actually comes. You have preconceived notions about how things are going to be and about how a person is going to be, and then you are anxious about that. It is like going to school for the first day. But then once you get comfortable and you get used to it, you realize it is for the better.

"We are going to be a disciplined team and the thing that I found interesting is that he sees discipline not as a punitive measure but something that is going to help us win. That is fun because winning is what we are all about. To lose and have fun is no fun."

Wide receiver Amani Toomer thinks Coughlin's direction will lead to plenty of fun this upcoming season.

"You've heard so much about how the new system is going to be," Toomer said. "There was nothing that really stood out to me that was crazy or anything like that. Everything seemed very logical and everything seemed natural. There wasn't anything that you kind of raised your eyebrows about. It was all kind of like, 'Okay, I can deal with that. I understand where he's coming from.' It was comforting just because all of the stuff that you've heard that might happen, to actually hear what is going to happen it was a little like, 'Oh, that's it?'

"Don't get me wrong. His points that he made he really enforced them. He has a vision and a direction that he wants this team to go in. Most of the guys that I've been around I know agree with the way he wants things organized. I didn't really see much of a stretch, or anything that was kind of crazy."

The reputation

Coughlin obviously knew the players he was meeting with for the first time had a preconceived notion of him, fair or not. He said he tried to explain himself as best he could.

"I told our players what I stood for and what I think – for example, my definition of discipline – which is much different in terms of what Webster might say it is," Coughlin said. "I told them that what I want to do is win. My purpose of being here is to win. My purpose is to help facilitate that and provide players with the resources – support and encouragement, everything that I possibly could to help them be in the best position to win.

"I know how to win and I know how to apply it. I know that some of the things the players will first be introduced to they won't be real happy about. Some things they won't quite understand and I am going to do the best job I can to make them understand, because I think in the long run they will see that everything I do has a reason and a purpose. That purpose is to put us in the best position to win."

The weight room

The Giants Stadium weight room has been completely remodeled to reflect the desires of Coughlin and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri.

"We are in a free weight program," Coughlin said. "We do have some machines that will accommodate, for example, people with rehabs or injury situations. But by-and-large this program is a free weight program.

"We talked about the new weight room (in the meeting), about how much pride we have in that facility and how I hope the players look at it in the same way that I do in that they are proud of it and they will take good care of it."

The preseason

The Giants opponents and one date for the upcoming preseason were announced.

During Week 1 (Aug. 12-16) of the exhibition season, the Giants will host the Kansas City Chiefs. New York's next game will be a nationally-televised (FOX) Thursday evening trip to defending NFC Champion Carolina on Aug. 19.

As always the Giants and Jets will hook up during Week 3 (Aug. 26-30), with the Giants serving as the visiting club this season. The final preseason game – vs. Baltimore – will take place the weekend of Sept. 2-5.

"My approach to the preseason is we try to win every game that we play," Coughlin said. "It's much easier to teach and to learn when you've been in a winning situation. My reaction is we certainly do have a very challenging preseason, which starts off with Kansas City. The way it's set up will certainly prepare us well for the 2004 regular season."

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