The two were with the Giants together from 1988-90, when Belichick was the defensive coordinator and Coughlin was the wide receivers coach. Coughlin gave Belichick some insight on how his wideouts were able to exploit some of his defensive backs, and the self-scouting tactics helped Belichick become a more well-rounded defensive mind.
And although the two are trying to beat each other Sunday at Gillette Stadium, they couldn't shake the memories from their time together on the sidelines.
"Tom came to the Giants staff when I was already there, and I was coaching the secondary and Tom was coaching the receivers," Belichick said. "That was a really a good situation for me. As a defensive backfield coach and a defensive coordinator, but as a secondary coach, you work a lot with the receivers coach — one-on-ones, seven-on-seven drills — and also you talk to each other about, 'We're playing this technique. What do you see? What can we do better, or how would you attack it?'
"Tom and I had a good relationship and a good give-and-take on that. He would tell me things with our defensive backs — how they were trying to beat them, what they saw from this guy, how they would attack another defensive player with the same route, how they would run it differently on a different player. And the same thing, 'This is what I see from your receivers. This is how we're trying to play this guy. He really makes it easy for us on this route by doing this or doing that.' So it was good. It was constructive, and it was good.
"Then, of course, after the '90 season, Tom came here [to Boston College], and I went to Cleveland, so we haven't [worked] together since then. But we've had, whether he was [at Boston College], or in Jacksonville or in New York, or I was in Cleveland, or I was in wherever I was before coming back here, we've always maintained a good friendship. He and his wife and his family have been friends for quite a few years."
Coughlin echoed the sentiment.
"Bill and I had a very, very good working relationship," Coughlin said. "This was one of those things where Bill was coaching the secondary, I was coaching the receivers, and we had a certain time or part of the day in which we could work against each other. We always had a really great attitude about helping each other, and whatever we needed, we got from the other guy. If I was asked to demonstrate some routes or put ourselves in position where perhaps it might have some man coverage adjustments that the secondary needed to see and be able to adjust to, we were more than happy to do that. I really do feel like the way in which we worked was something that became, for our entire team, a good example for the rest of our coaches and players in terms of cooperating so that we might be the best that we could be. We worked well together. He's been a good friend and a guy that I have great respect for."