New Giants coach Brian Daboll takes a time out to snuggle up with Post columnist Steve Serby and talk about where he plans to take his team.
Q: What will your standards be?
A: To do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it consistently.
Q: What is your definition of tenacity?
A: Well, for me, mental toughness is about doing what’s right for the team when things aren’t going well for you. And physical strength is the ability to push when you’re tired, when you’re in pain… and that’s [the] ability to be aggressive when you have to be aggressive.
Q: How do you motivate your players?
A: I try to get to know the person and then understand what motivates them. Some guys need a hug and some guys need a little gas. I think if you get to know people and find out their personality. There are trade-offs with that, but again, just like you and I learn to meet, the more we talk the better we’ll be with each other and the more we’ll know which helps in terms of motivation, make us move in the right direction.
Q: How many rules will you have?
A: The more rules you have, the more you need to enforce them. Be on time and be careful, we’ll start with those. We’ll have a package we’ll put together, but be on time, be careful, do the right thing and keep talking to these guys over and over.
Q: What don’t you tolerate?
A: Get in front of the team. Being disrespectful to people in the organization. For us, we are going to be detailed and organized. We are going to treat people well, we are going to put the team first.
Q: What’s the best motivational ploy you’ve witnessed?
A: The one I heard about is from [Bill] Parcels leaving an empty gas tank there in the lockers of some of these old people.
Q: What is your team’s personality on the pitch?
A: Smart, robust, reliable.
Q: Reliable is spelled “dependaboll,” is not it?
A laugh). You are a witty sonuvabitch!
Q: Why doesn’t New York scare you?
A: I know what we signed up for. And I know the responsibility that I have, and I know the goals that I’m going to set for myself and for the team and give you everything I have. Listen, I understand. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And there will be ups and downs. You’ll pick up pieces along the way. I can’t control these things. I don’t think of it in terms of that.
Q: What drove you when you were little and what drives you now?
A: To be the best you can be. My grandparents are two of the most influential people in my life – I would say mom too, I don’t want to leave her out – but they really taught me not to settle…to strive for perfection…not to let nobody say tell you you’re not as good because you don’t have money or something. …You put your head down, you go to work, and you do it because you’re trying to be the best you can be. I would bring home 97s, 98s, my grandma would put on my ass, “Why wasn’t that a 100?” You’d score a few goals in a hockey game, and it’s like, “Well, who scored the other goals?” So there is a level of never being satisfied.
Q: Describe your grandmother.
A: She is everything to me. She’s a housewife. They got married 64 years ago, somewhere in there, years. She had nine siblings, so she was one of 10. They haven’t grown much, and she’s the matriarch of my family. She had two daughters, one of her daughters had three sons, and my mother had me. I lived with her. She was under 40 when I was born… 39.
Q: Give me a story about her that you think sums her up.
A: (Laughs) I have a lot. I spoke to him every night. No matter where I was, I would call him, let him know that I was driving home safe and sound after our games. After the good games, it was: “You did well.” But after a tough loss, you’d think the woman who raised you would hug you and lay your head on her shoulder – and it was quite the opposite. She said: “Sonuvabitch, it was terrible!” I’m like, “Hey Gram, I don’t need to hear that from you!” She was like, “Well, I’m shooting you straight. Sonuvabitch, it was not good. Your ass better get back to work. Do better next week.
Q: And your grandfather?
A: He was still plowing sidewalks at 95. And he was walking down half our street just so the others wouldn’t. … There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t there to play wrestling with me after I worked, take me to my sporting events. Conversely, there was not a time when I had to sit alone because I had my grandmother. They dined at a certain time every night, they were very routine people. Very, very, very routine-oriented. And I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today without them.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle or personal adversity you have had to overcome?
A: Like everyone, growing up without a father is, I would say, sometimes difficult. People wondered, “Where is your father? I just had a little different family dynamic, obviously, being raised by my grandparents. Other than that, I had a blessed childhood.
Q: How did it affect you emotionally when you learned that your father was never a part of your life?
A: I was just so lucky to have these two people as stable forces. So I never really thought about him. … The children said: “Where is your father? I would just say that I was lucky to have who I had in my life. It probably would have gone down pretty quickly if I hadn’t.
Q: If you could go back in history and choose the mastermind of an NFL coach, who would it be?
A: Parcel when I can. … May be [Vince] Lombardy.
Q: What would you ask Lombardi?
A: I would ask him about his leadership style…how he motivated players.
Q: What is the best advice Parcells has given you?
A: Be yourself.
Q: Besides relationship building, how would you characterize your leadership style?
A: I think I’m being truthful. … I think I tell people who work with me what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I know the people I work with — and again, everyone is a little different — you treat everyone fairly, not the same.
Q: What adjectives would you use to describe Brian Daboll?
A: This is a difficult question. You ask a question like that to someone, you are not humble. … I would say disciplined in my approach. … I would say demanding. … I would say passionate.
Q: Is there anyone who embodies all the traits of your ideal footballer?
A: For what position?
Q: What about the quarterback?
A: I’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of great ones, and the thing I’ve learned is that they’re all a little bit different. I don’t put them in the same categories, I’m just saying the guys I’ve been around – obviously, Tom [Brady] and Josh [Allen]. And I would say [Brett] Favré.
Q: What about the offensive line?
A: Joe Thomas…Nick Mangold…Alan Faneca…Logan Mankins.
Q: What traits do these guys have in common?
A: They’re smart and they’re tough. And they do a great job of communicating. You have to see the game through the same eyes. Many people work in collaboration with each other. It’s a tough position when you put them all together.
Q: What are the best lessons you learned under Bill Belichick?
A: Man, I could write a book about it. … It’s your job as a coach to tell the players what to do, show them how to do it and make sure we don’t make excuses. Give the players all the advantages you can as a coach.
Q: Who are the coaches of other sports that you look up to?
A: Phil Jackson — how he handled all the different personalities. Dean Smith, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, Geno Auriemma.
Q: Who are the athletes in other sports that you look up to?
A: Let’s start with [Michael] Jordan. Growing up there was no basketball team in Buffalo, but I was lucky to grow up when Jordan was playing. Just an amazing competitor…winner…leader…simply awesome to watch. Wayne Gretzky would be another. Tiger Woods. …let’s go with LT [Lawrence Taylor]too – a dominant force changed the game defensively.
Q: Tom Coughlin, whatever comes to mind.
A: Super Bowl winner.
Q: Tom Brady.
A: Super Bowl winner. Lots of them, lots of them. … I have so much respect for him. I have a great relationship with him. … He’s a champ. He’s a champ.
Q: Chad Pennington.
A: Clever…great friend…and great leader.
Q: Eric Mangini.
A: Great friend…extremely smart. …I would say I owe him a lot.
Q: Matthew Stafford.
A: A good person… very happy for him.
Q: What do you remember from Super Bowl XLII?
A: I was watching it on TV. [David] Tyree’s trap. Eli [Manning] escape the rush. … I remember players performing under extreme pressure.
Q: Did you talk to Eli?
A: I just contacted him and just wanted to introduce myself. It wasn’t a long conversation, and I told her to come anytime to sit down and talk to her.
Q: Would you go on the “Manningcast”?
A: Absolutely, I would – unless it happened like it did this year when every sonovagun who went there lost the following week.
Q: Youth idol?
A: My grandfather.
Q: And in sports?
A: Probably Jordan.
Q: How is it to have six children?
A: (Laughs) How many do you have?
Q: I have a stepdaughter and that’s it.
A: Okay. Well, it’s busy. Let’s say we never get bored at home.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Breakfast Club”.
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Denzel [Washington].
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Sandra Bullock.
Q: Favorite singer or artist?
Q: Favorite meal?
A: A good ribeye.
Q: Your favorite comedian?
A: Probably [Jerry] Seinfield.
Q: Three guests?
A: My two grandparents. What you need to know about me is that I grew up a certain way. Listen, I loved sports, I loved playing sports. …I loved the Giants, watching LT and [Phil] Sims and [Mark] Bavarian. … I loved the Bills with Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas. But that never motivated me. I would give anything to have those two people I lost come back for one more dinner. The third would be my wife’s mother. I never met her.