Tom Coughlin was one of those in attendance Saturday night when Bill Parcells was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After Tuna's speech, Coughlin said there was an air of familiarity to its tone.
"To listen to him speak [on Saturday night] and the way that he did it, it was almost like he was saying to me, or somebody who worked for him, 'Hey, let's go for a walk and talk,' '' Coughlin said. "You can't help but be extremely proud and extremely happy for Bill. To see him rewarded in this way makes me very, very happy.''
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Coughlin was one of several Giants representatives who traveled from New Jersey to Canton, Ohio, after practice on Saturday afternoon and returned home that night. The contingent included team matriarch Ann Mara, team president John Mara, his brothers Chris and Frank and his sister Susan, longtime Giants trainer Ronnie Barnes and tight ends coach Michael Pope, who was on Parcells' staff with the Giants and Patriots.
"I'm so grateful to him for what he did for me and my family just by giving me a job,'' said Coughlin, who was hired as the Giants' wide receivers coach in 1988. "If I don't have the opportunity to go to work for the Giants, I'm not standing here right now.''
Coughlin was not named in Parcells' induction speech, but he was referred to when Parcells spoke about his former assistants who have gone on to become head coaches and win Super Bowls -- Coughlin, Bill Belichick and Sean Payton, all of whom were in attendance -- and said: "I take pride in their individual accomplishments and I'm looking for a couple more championships out of some of them, so let's go.''
"He never acted like he was very proud of us, but he was,'' Coughlin said. "Whenever you have someone you've learned from and they become a mentor for you, it means a great deal to be recognized by them. I'm sure he's talked to Belichick. He's talked to me and Sean. He's embraced a lot of people along the way.''
As for the full scope of the ceremony, Coughlin said he was moved to see how such great players and coaches become humbled by their surroundings and recognize others who have helped them achieve their greatness.
"Our game is the greatest game of all, but it takes 11, OK?'' Coughlin said. "No one person does it all by himself. The more you understand that, the more you have the opportunity to understand when it comes time, when this tremendous honor comes to these players and coaches etc. who are inducted, they take the time to thank those along the way and in so doing, they really do grasp the idea that you can't possibly do it alone.''