Lessons in Leadership from the Coaches of the NY Giants & NY Jets

The Giants season continues and the Jets remain home for the winter.

The Giants improbable 37-20 victory over the Packers puts them into the NFC Championship game.

Just a few weeks ago there were modest expectations for the Giants season based on player defections, key injuries, and the seeming inability to sign higher profile free agents (which perhaps was a blessing). The Giants finished the regular season with a modest record of 9 victories, 7 losses, but won the NFC East. Now 2 playoff games later they remain Super Bowl contenders. Whether they become Super Bowl Champs again or fall short, I am proud to be a fan of the Giants.

Giants Cowboys FootballThe Giants are led by Coach Tom Coughlin, an old fashioned, “my way or highway” disciplinarian. There’s nothing warm and cuddly about him, though he has softened a bit over the years. He is focused, consistent, demanding and, despite his stern demeanor, is a true leader. The Giants have had ups and downs in his 8-year tenure as Coach. Their second half performances are typically weaker than the first half, which has brought pressure on himself and the organization. But Tom has a ring and ultimately the respect of the players, despite occasional grumbling. And the Giants now travel to SF to play in the NFC Championship. Win or lose, they are a team to be admired led by a humble coach who understands leadership.

rex-ryan-no-cowboysThe Jets are led by their Coach, Rex Ryan, who is different in almost all ways. He is younger, brazen and boastful. He is crude, profane, obese, and out of control. Many of the players love him for those qualities (perhaps because they are the same way). The performance of the team in the first 2 years of his tenure was strong—appearances in 2 AFC Championship Games. On the basis of those performances, combined with an overinflated ego, he foolishly predicted that the Jets would be Super Bowl Champions this year. The reality is they lost their last 3 regular season games, including the final one to a weak Dolphins team and did not even make the playoffs. Bottom line is that the Jets were an underachieving team of disunity and disappointment.

The Jets team is now a train wreck of finger pointing and dissension. Players brazenly call out the organization and its quarterback. Ironically no one has called out their beloved Coach, but it is at his doorstep that the disunity lies. When your Coach crudely tells a fan to “Go F*%k yourself” he sets the tone for appropriate behavior, or misbehavior. The tone is vulgarity and disrespect. We all learn from our parents. Rex Ryan is no different. He learned his behavior from his dad, the “legendary” (and equally crude) Buddy Ryan, who once suggested that members the opposing team would be carried out of the field in “body bags”. Nice, Buddy. Just as his son Rex, Buddy was also a brilliant defensive coordinator who fell short when given the spotlight of being the head man.

I am proud of the Giants and their coach and players. I am proud to be a lifelong fan and feel their organization from its ownership, front office, coaches and players are ones a fan can respect. In every aspect, the Jets are inferior—in performance, in integrity and results.

Two leaders–one strict, old fashioned and old school, while the other is new school, trash talking and boastful. I’ll take old school every time.

Rex, you are correct that your team is not  the “little brother” of the Giants. The Jets are an ugly distant cousin.

Epilog: Super Bowl XLVI will be great. A rematch of Giants vs. Pats. Former Giants assistant coaches of yesteryear who learned “old school” from Bill Parcells. Go G-Men.

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