INDIANAPOLIS - There are many similarities between Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin. Both coaches are close in age, have worked together on the same staff, share common approaches to the game, and even use similar idioms, among other things.
The differences between these Super Bowl-winning coaches are noticeable as well, and were on full display Friday.
Coughlin, the head coach of the New York Giants, and Belichick, of the Patriots, each conducted his final press obligation before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI. The customarily formal affair was held at the NFL's Media Center at the posh JW Marriott hotel on the western edge of downtown Indianapolis.
Belichick began the morning with an 8:30 Q&A session that lasted about 15 minutes. Coughlin took the podium at the grand stage in the large JW ballroom at 9:30. During his 15 minutes with the media, Coughlin seemed to take a few subtle jabs at Belichick and the Patriots.
He was asked, for instance, if he thought his players were bordering on overconfident based on some of the statements they've made this week about how Sunday's game will play out.
"I'm not sure what you're referencing. I know that there are one or two quotes out there," Coughlin conceded, "but, to be honest with you, I don't know that either one of them is any different than Tom Brady's. I think it's just a matter of our team has played good football against great football teams. We always quote to our team, "Humble enough to prepare, confident enough to perform. That's the way we look at it."
He was alluding, of course, to Brady's one-liner at New England's send-off rally at Gillette Stadium this past Sunday, in which the Patriots QB said he hoped there'd be even more fans at the coming-home party next week.
Another questioner wondered what Coughlin and his staff can do over the final two days before kickoff to limit distractions to the Giants players. In his answer Coughlin took a swipe - intentionally or not - at Belichick, who often uses the expression "the hay's in the barn" (meaning you've done all you can do in a situation).
"I coach them right up through the kickoff. I've never been a believer in ... 'The hay in the barn' business. That's not the case at all. I've always felt you coach them, you talk to them, you look with them. There is always something that can be discussed or talked about. You're literally doing it, right up until the kickoff. You're talking during the course of the warm-up. You're making little comments that they can grab a hold of.
"I think you continuously, decide what it is, the two or three key things that you're really interested in as you go forward as you spend your Saturday and Saturday night with your team. You try to bring the entire week or two weeks into context with them, so that they understand exactly where they are and what they have to do in order to win. I don't think it ever stops."
Belichick recently revealed that, week to week, his approach in this regard varies. Sometimes he fills every waking minute with work, other times he takes some of those final hours a little lighter.
In these final days before the Super Bowl, participating teams have historically switched to remote, undisclosed hotels on the eve of the game, in an effort to ensure that the players' focus is on the game and nothing else. Coughlin, whose Giants in currently staying in the heart of downtown Indy, plans to break with tradition and keep his team right where it is.
Here again, Coughlin may have unwittingly or purposely taken a shot at the Patriots.
"I don't know why there's a lot of concern about us being where we are. We're isolated and the second floor is completely secured for our players and our personnel. Our floors are off limits to everybody and they're well-secured. Our players have enjoyed great rest and no one has complained of a bad night's sleep, and if they have, it hasn't been because of noise and other issues."
Some former Patriots who played in the last Super Bowl between these two teams have made comments lately about the conditions of the Patriots' hotel in Arizona.
As Coughlin left the stage, a representative from the league's public relations department asked the Giants coach to pose for photographs with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, flanked by helmets of both teams. Coughlin willingly obliged. Belichick, on the other hand, was neither asked, nor did he stop for photos of his own accord.
Just another noticeable difference between these two men.