So what has that got to do with me and the Giants? Quite a bit, actually. In a very tangible way, Wooden had a profound affect on my life recently, even though I had never met the man. The closest I'd ever come to him, in fact, was watching him coach his great UCLA teams on TV.
But Tom Coughlin had met him, in 2009, just after the league meetings in Southern California. I was only a couple of weeks back from an unfortunate absence that lasted throughout 2008, when Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon called with the news that the coach wanted to see me. Had a story I might be interested in. So I showed up at Giants Stadium at 11:30 a.m. that day, and for the next 1 1/2 hours, the coach told me the story of his meeting with John Wooden.
Here's the story that came out of my visit.
I learned a lot about Wooden that day. But I learned so much more about Tom Coughlin. He was truly humbled by being in the presence of a great man, and spoke about his visit in reverent tones one usually reserves for papal audiences. But more than that, he showed an uncommon humanity toward me. He knew I'd been through a tough time, as he and the Giants had kept in touch throughout 2008 with much-needed moral support. And he knew a story like this would make my re-entrance into the working world that much easier. For that, I will forever hold this Giants coach in highest esteem.
Coughlin is not the type that summons cameras and notebooks whenever he does a good deed. He may well cringe when he reads about this one. But it bears mentioning, only to point out that the two coaches shared not only success in their respective sports, but kindness and generosity, too. And some how, I think those last two qualities are much more important than the first.