GIANTS' COACH HUMBLED BY HONOR FROM ARMY
"Tom Coughlin’s Year to Remember got even more memorable here last night when
the Giants’ admittedly star-struck coach was honored for his dedication to the
Although still reveling in his second Super Bowl crown in five years,
Coughlin was both humbled and, at times, speechless as Army Chief of Staff
Raymond T. Odierno — a noted Big Blue fan from Dover, N.J. — toasted him and
four others near Arlington National Cemetery for their volunteer work with the
Coughlin wasn’t the only NFL head coach honored during a theatrical annual
fort ceremony called Twilight Tattoo — the Ravens’ John Harbaugh also was on
hand to be recognized — but the usually gruff Giants boss admitted he was almost
moved to tears by his Outstanding Civilian Service Award.
“When the general was standing there reading off that stuff about me, it was
almost like I was saying to myself, ‘Who’s he talking about?’ ’’ Coughlin told
The Post after the hour-long celebration overlooking the Washington Monument and
the Capitol Building.
“It was unbelievable to me,” continued Coughlin, who was accompanied to the
event by wife Judy. “The patriotism just came pouring out of me with all of the
pomp and circumstance and standing there next to a four-star general. That’s
what you call humbling.”
The Army honored Coughlin for allowing soldiers and the families to attend
practices and games, for repeatedly visiting wounded soldiers at both Walter
Reed Medical Center and other installations and for flying to Iraq in 2009 as
part of a USO tour with John Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher and Jon
Odierno noted the awkwardness of honoring the coach of the Giants in the
backyard of the NFC East rival Redskins, but Coughlin received nothing but loud
applause and picture requests from a large crowd made up mostly of civilians and
schoolchildren bused in from Ohio, North Carolina and elsewhere.
The Giants had an on-field OTA workout earlier yesterday at their Meadowlands
complex, but Coughlin said that wasn’t going to keep him from accepting an award
that Odierno had told him six months ago would be coming.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish a lot in my coaching career, but
this stacks right up there,” Coughlin said. “This means the world to me.”
Attending the ceremony was even more special to Coughlin because he is a huge
military history buff, and Fort Myer is the traditional home of the Army Chief
Coughlin could barely contain his awe at being honored just yards from where
former chiefs of staff Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and
John Pershing all lived.
“Just thinking about that aspect of it blows me away,” said Coughlin, who
will be back in the area June 8 along with his players and staff to be honored
by President Obama at the White House for their Super Bowl win.
Last night’s elaborate ceremony almost didn’t come off — at least not
outdoors — thanks to a heavy thunderstorm that struck the base just minutes
before the event was scheduled to begin.
But after a roughly 40-minute delay, the show went on — featuring everything
from an artillery salute to soldiers reenacting moments from the Revolutionary
War and Vietnam.
Odierno, who became Chief of Staff last September and has visited the Giants
numerous times, seemed at times almost as in awe of Coughlin as Coughlin was of
the four-star general.
“You’re talking about someone who has really dedicated himself over a long
period of time to caring about our soldiers and their families,” Onierno told
The Post. “His dedication to the military is quite significant.”
Asked jokingly if the fact he also bleeds Giant blue had anything to do with
Coughlin’s award, Odierno smiled and shook his head.
“Absolutely nothing to do with that,” he said. “Absolutely everything to do
with what he’s done for the military.”