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How Giants Coach Tom Coughlin Changed His Tune — And Earned The Right To Win

(credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN) – There was a time when Tom Coughlin wasn’t so beloved in New York – in the locker room, the media, you name it.

Criticized for being a rigid authoritarian, the Giants coach knew an adjustment was needed after the 2006 season.

“I went home one night and my wife said, ‘They hate you,’ ” Coughlin told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on Thursday. “‘The print media hates you. You’re going to have to do something.’ “

After a discussion with Big Blue public relations chief Pat Hanlon, Coughlin decided to “take the gloves off” — one-on-one — with each member of the media.

“I was not helping them do their job to the best of their abilities,” Coughlin said. “That was wrong. I was wrong.”

He decided to be more forthcoming.

And less prickly.

“I’m gonna change,” Coughlin said of his thought process. “I’m gonna try to be a better communicator. I’m gonna try to treat people with respect. I’m gonna try to bite my tongue and be more patient and that type of thing. I think it started there, and then it carried over obviously to our team.”

A leadership council was formed from a select group of players from each position. It was another big step in the evolution of Coughlin, who would win his first of two championships with New York the very next season.

“Quite frankly, somehow I would think I expressed myself very plainly … but there would be four or five different interpretations, which told me that I wasn’t doing a great job of communicating,” he said. “So I used this group and they were great — Michael Strahan was one of them. And it gave me a chance to talk to the players also about, you know, what my values were and what my thinking was, and let them talk.”

Strahan wrote the forward (“A Winning Relationship”) to Coughlin’s new book, “Earn the Right to Win.” The book isn’t so much a retelling of the 66-year-old’s success with the Giants — it’s more a game plan for success in business and life.

And sometimes that starts with change.

More from Coughlin:

On having to release players like Ahmad Bradshaw: “We’re very, very respectful of the players that have helped this franchise to historical wins and historical games and Super Bowl championships. We are very, very, very respectful and grateful and love these guys. But it is what it is, man.”

On Victor Cruz’s contract status: “Nothing to report that I know of.”

Have you read Coughlin’s book? Tell us about it in the comments!