For two guys who fought over a Super Bowl not long ago, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are pretty tight.
Belichick, famous for his terse answers in press conferences, was highly complimentary of Coughlin during a chat with reporters on Wednesday.
"I will always have respect for Tom. He works hard and is a tough ... guy who puts a lot of time in," Belichick said. "I know his teams are well prepared, I know he is very thorough and demands a lot from his players and his team. I have a lot of respect for that. We try to do the same thing."
Belichick and Coughlin were on the Giants coaching staff under Bill Parcells from 1988-1990.
Belichick was the defensive coordinator in 1988 and was the coordinator and secondary coach from 1989-1990. Coughlin coached the receivers during that time.
"Tom and I had a good relationship there because we worked against each other every day in one-on-one, seven-on-seven and different passing drills. He talked a lot about how the receivers would attack different coverages with different techniques and we talked about different receivers," Belichick said. "I learned a lot during those years."
Belichick used that knowledge during his first NFL head-coaching stint with the Browns and, later, with the Patriots. Their relationship remains strong today. They catch up during the owners meetings, but usually steer clear of discussing football because, as Belichick points out, "they are the competition."
"We have gone our separate ways but we have stayed in touch," said Belichick, whose Patriots were upset by Coughlin's Giants in Super Bowl XLII. "I always admired what Tom has done, whether it was at BC, Jacksonville or with the Giants. He is a good football coach, good person and good man. He treats people fairly, he is honest and he is tough. I respect all those things."