Ithaca Blog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sorry, Coach

Sometimes, professional sport seems as far from real life as any video game or fantasy; but occasionally you are reminded that real people are involved.

Tom Coughlin is the coach of the New York Giants football team. He is an upstate New York guy, born in Waterloo, and despite small physical stature, holder of many records playing football at Syracuse, years ago.

He did it, presumably, through mental stamina and determination. He is famously strict. He once fined a player for being two minutes early to a meeting, because everyone else was already there.

He is slightly Irish, and reminds me of my father, who was a 150-pound-weighing Marine a few years before Coughlin was setting those college records with the same-type physique.

My father's favorite saying, as a father, to us kids was "It's not what you want to do,  it's what you have to do."  Think about it, that covers a lot of ground.

Coughlin and Mr. Burke would probably like one another, although my father has mellowed considerably with the years, and Coughlin not so much, as he is a big football coach and can't afford to; but today we noticed a slight crack, in a comment he made about an off-the-field team matter.

The short story is that a player was at a club, late, celebrating his birthday with teammates and other friends, and there was a shooting. It didn't involve the player, or any players with him, but it is still not a good thing - a distraction, as they say.

The news media makes an issue of it, of course. This is New York, after all, and it wasn't some divey club, but a swanky one, although in New York this does not necessarily mean devoid of wise guys or crime.

Coughlin was asked about the incident at his weekly press conference. A few years ago, he probably would have put a big blast on someone. Instead, he sounded resigned, not angry, just exasperated.

"I don't know what good happens at 2:30 or 3 in the morning," he said. "I've never been able to figure that one out."

Edward Burke, father of four, probably said the same thing many times through the years, although not in the past 30.

Too bad that Coach Coughlin still has to worry. I suppose he gets paid for it. But I bet my father would not trade places.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

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