INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Belichick talked about his foe in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Coughlin, in the most reverent terms.
"I respect a lot of things about Tom — his evaluation of talent, the way he attacks teams, his consistency, his discipline, his team's toughness, their resiliency. Bill (Parcells) has a lot of those characteristics as a coach.
"He's demanding of (the players) in a good way. There's a lot of Bill Parcells in that, too."
In my eyes, Coughlin might have plenty of Parcells in him. But if the Giants' boss can find a way to coax his troops to victory in Super Bowl XLVI, I will always look at this guy as football's version of 1950s middleweight, Jake LaMotta.
Look at the haymakers Coughlin has absorbed in his career. As little as two months ago, the New York media was making plans for his firing.
And now, he stands a win away from immortality, or at least a sure trip to the Hall of Fame in Canton.
Belichick understated it. The man is resilient — a resilient pitbull.
"Every year, he's supposed to be out," said Giants offensive lineman and Coughlin's son-in-law Chris Snee. "He doesn't pay much attention to that. He stays focused on what's important, winning games and getting us here. He never wavers on that. We follow his lead. He's the leader of our football team. We look to him to guide us through."
Coughlin's entire head coaching career has been a lesson in survival.
Like Belichick, Coughlin's first NFL coaching stint drew mixed results, with eight seasons, going 68-60 overall and 4-4 in the playoffs.
After a year away, he took over the Giants and almost immediately stirred the pot by pressing rookie Eli Manning into the starting role over veteran Kurt Warner.