Standing Taller than a Giant

Before the athlete comes the person and before winning comes virtue
by Benjamin Greene, LC | Source: clues

He is not a six-foot four, three hundred and sixty-five pound defensive tackle, but he does stand Tall as a Giant.” Tom Coughlin is one of the best coaches in the game of football. During the 2007 season he led his New York Giants to an emotional victory in Super Bowl XLII over the heavily favoured New England Patriots. What makes him tower above the rest?  Not the shiny ring on his finger or even the noble pride in his heart for a dream come true.  Coughlin is more than a football coach.  He is a coach of virtue.


Eric LeGrand, a college football player at Rutgers University, after a hard hit in the Saturday afternoon game, woke up at Hackensack University Medical Center, paralyzed from the neck down. Coach Coughlin, hearing about the tragedy, paid this young athlete a visit. Eric is not Tom Coughlin’s son or the friend of his son or even a member of his team. Furthermore this hospital visit did not coincide with the off-season but with the gruelling intensity of iron pumping and forty-yard sprinting of the regular season. If football meant for this coach making the playoffs and winning the Super bowl, coach Tom would surely have been a no show at Eric’s bed side. What trophy did he bring back from that visit? Coach’s visit was not the miracle cure that made Eric walk again, but this visit, without a doubt, brought hope, joy and some relief  to a boy with  shattered dreams of making it to the NFL and doubts about wither he would ever walk again.

There is more to the game of football than being faster, stronger, and better prepared mentally than your opponent. A coach cannot limit himself to studying the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses. A coach is not a lion tamer. He is a teacher and a role model for young athletes in the how and why of virtue. Success or failure as a coach should not be based only on your win-lose record. Winning is not everything, nor the only thing. The success for any coach is measured on and off the field in the virtue he displays as a leader, father and friend. Coach Tom is a living testimony that victory and virtue coexist. Thanks Coach Coughlin for standing “Tall as a Giant” by teaching us that before the athlete comes the person and before winning comes virtue.

Benjamin Greene, LC studies for the priesthood in Rome.

Question or comment? Please, write to Fr. Nathan Miller, LC at

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