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Tom Coughlin: lighthearted jokester?

Sports scribes sometimes joke about editors or readers who ask us to assess the mood of the team before a big game because, truthfully, what the heck do we know?

But those of us who attended Tom Coughlin's final pre-NFC Championship Game news conference Friday can say without hestitation that at least the Giants head coach is loose.

How loose? During a five-minute session it at times seems as if another person had inhabited TC's body for the occasion. It was peppered with the sound of . . . laughter?

He began with a good-natured crack about hypercaffeinated, "over the top" p.r. man Pat Hanlon.

When Newsday's own Tom Rock asked about precautions to prevent a spread of a bug that has hit Eli Manning and David Baas, he said, "Like what? Everyone's wearing masks, everybody's washing their hands, everybody's doing whatever they can, like when your sister came home with whatever and you got it. That's where we are."

Then he was asked about whether he expects injured tight end Jake Ballard to be ready for Sunday. "No, he said, sarcastically, then added, "Naturally, we do, what do you think those people do in there, play cards?"

Coughlin smiled and gushed when asked about former guard Rich Seubert, who will serve as an honorary captain Sunday, and told a story about a picture of Coughlin and Seubert taken around Christmas in 2010 on which Seubert had written, "Happy Holidays."

Coughlin said he took it out again before Christmas 2011 and has looked at it every day in his locker over the past month and a half.

When a reporter asked whether he was referring to this past holiday season Coughlin good-naturedly chided her over what he considered a silly question.

When the laughter died down, he said, "I'm not a very good jokester," even though he was on this day. 

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