It's been a good week for New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. Just two days after it was announced that he signed a contract extension that will keep him in the catbird seat through 2014, he got to go back to the White House to be honored as the man in charge of the Super Bowl champions. It was the second time in the last five seasons he's done so, of course -- the Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII just as they did in Super Bowl XLVI.
For Coughlin and his team, this victory had to seem even sweeter.
"A few short years ago I said I hope this experience was not a once-in-a-lifetime experience," the coach said during Friday's ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. "Now, I hope it's not a twice-in-a-lifetime experience."
And that's the point. While the 2007 Giants were seen as the upstart undercard in the biggest Super Bowl upset in history, this team is build for speed, defensive power, and the future -- and without the "elite" argument anywhere near quarterback Eli Manning. That's been put to rest for good.
"I would just advise the sportswriters out there the next time Eli says he thinks he is an elite quarterback, you may just want to be quiet," President Barack Obama (a longtime Chicago Bears fan) quipped during his speech in which he praised the Giants' "toughness, teamwork, and resiliency."
"The Giants took a whole bunch of hits this season, but they never went down," the President said.. "From Day 1, they followed a simple model: Finish. Finish the play, finish the game, finish the season. And after Week 15, sitting at 7-7, they knew that every game was a playoff game. But the players, the coaches, the staff, the owners, they didn't quit."
For the young Giants still in college when the last ceremony happened, everything old was new again.
"It was crazy, man," said Victor Cruz, the second-year undrafted receiver who caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. "Just to be at the White House and meeting the President, it was just one of those experiences that I will never let go. [To see] all the different rooms, all the history that is in this room, to think that there were 43 other Presidents that were in here that shared this building with Barack. It is just an amazing feeling to just tour this place and be in the same building as him."
Manning, who flew in from his Tennessee home for the event, sounded like an old hand at these things. "It's always just great to be with your teammates and it's a great tradition of teams that have won a championship to come to the White House and tool around a little bit," he said. "Get to meet the President and have one last celebration of last year and a reminder of some of the things we were able to overcome and accomplish our goal and win a championship. It's good to think about those things, to remind us how hard we worked last year and what we're going to have to do this year to have another successful season."
Coughlin also had a couple of political quips for Obama. After praising the Giants' team-first approach, he asked, "Wouldn't it be nice if Congress operated the same way?"
Then, after his fervent hope that this wasn't a twice-in-a-lifetime experince, Coughlin turned to Obama and said, "We both have a goal to get back here next year."
Slightly reminiscent of Babe Ruth's thought when he was asked, in 1930, whether it was unseemly to be making more money than President Herbert Hoover.
"I had a better year than he did," Ruth responded.
Coughlin could easily say the same.