As a former high school teacher, I like to speak to students across the country and one of the most common questions I get is: What does it take to succeed in life? And my answer is very simple: Hard work and perseverance. I know it’s a clich�, but it’s a good clich�.
One year ago, New York Giants football coach Tom Coughlin was on the ropes. His team had underperformed, his star player, Tiki Barber, had quit—partially because he didn’t much like Coughlin—and the New York media was pounding the coach into pudding every hour on the hour.
I mean, it was bad.
Watching from a distance, I felt sorry for Coughlin. I’ve seen public figures get hammered, but this was brutal.
Sportswriters were digging his grave and dancing on it at the same time. There weren’t enough negative adjectives in the universe to describe the man.
Showing more bravery than most sports concerns, the Giants’ management rejected public opinion, deciding to give Coughlin one more year to turn things around. Once that was announced, even more vitriol descended on the coach.
But now, against all odds, The New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl. The team is good, not great. Injuries have piled up. But game after game, the Giants played hard and won, sometimes ugly. But they won.
Coach Coughlin, of course, is the champion of this effort, the guy in charge. He has every right to gloat, to mock those who diminished him last year. But he has done none of that.
What Coughlin did do was work his whistle off. He brought in some new coaches, lessened his authoritative manner, and let the passes fall where they may. His game plan worked.
But most importantly, Coughlin did not allow his attackers to beat him down. That is the key to his Super Bowl journey. The negativity directed at Coughlin was almost non-stop, the derision he faced astounding. Many of us would have packed it in and headed out of town.
Coughlin, however, did not get bitter; he got busy. And, now, he’s a winner no matter what happens in the big game.
It takes a person of strong character to absorb life’s pain. But this is the key to almost all success. Nobody gets a pass; we all get worked over sometimes. You simply have to fight your way through adversity if you want to prosper.
I’m rooting for Tom Coughlin and his team to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are an amazing story as well, but Coughlin’s grit is something every American should admire. This kind of story only happens once in a while; it is the stuff of legend.
Win or lose, there is a giant in the Super Bowl.