NFL documentary focuses on Tom Coughlin

Head coach Tom Coughlin gives direction on the

Head coach Tom Coughlin gives direction on the sidelines during a preseason game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. (Aug. 18, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Having successfully humanized Bill Belichick last year, it should come as no surprise NFL Films pulls off a similar trick in "Tom Coughlin: A Football Life," premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the NFL Network.

Coughlin proved a relatively easy subject compared to Belichick, a fellow former Giants assistant with a similar reputation for non-cuddliness who kicked off the series in 2011.

That is thanks largely to a warm supporting cast of friends and relatives led by his wife, Judy -- the real star of this show -- and daughter Kate, who make those of us who called for Coughlin's firing in 2006 feel mighty bad about it.

But Coughlin himself manages to illustrate the lighter side he finally began to share with the world in 2007, at his family's urging, coinciding with his first championship season.

As usual, NFL Films has illuminating sideline audio that ties it all together in a tidy bow.

Sometimes it's all a tad too tidy, though, given the traditional NFL Films approach under the late Steve Sabol of focusing on the positive and the inspiring.

A hard-hitting documentary this is not. Even those who express misgivings about Coughlin, such as former Jaguar Fred Taylor and former Giant Michael Strahan, eventually come around to understanding the crusty old coach.

Let's just say there is no Tiki Barber to be found here, only loyal colleagues, teammates and players - and even a former resident adviser at Syracuse named Jim Boeheim - plus 11 grandchildren to dote over.

But that's OK. It is what it is, and it is a must-watch for Giants fans, if for nothing else than footage of Coughlin's passionate speech to the team the night before Super Bowl XLVI.

No matter what Coughlin does from here on in, his place in New York sports history is secure, and as a first draft of his story, this will do quite well.

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