EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - More than a decade ago, Tom Coughlin stormed into the Giants' offices vowing to restore "Giants pride". And while Pat Shurmur hasn't exactly stormed into the building, he's on a similar mission: To restore the "Giants way"
Those are basically the same things: A reminder of the need for players to be professionals, to treat people with respect -- lessons he began teaching the rookies and tryout players at the rookie mini-camp this weekend. Shurmur, like Coughlin before him, believes there is simply a right way to do things.
And as long as Shurmur is in charge, that's the way things around the Giants will be done.
"We want to teach our rookies the right way from the very beginning," Shurmur said. "Here is your iPad. Here is your locker. Here is where you need to be. Here is how you need to dress. Here are the fields. 'Please' and 'Thank you' work. Push in your chair. We want to really train these guys in the New York Giants' way."
For some of the veterans, that might mean a re-training after the last two years under former coach Ben McAdoo. As Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman have indicated many times, the Giants had a "culture" problem in the locker room last season - a culture they are desperately trying to clean up.
It was more than bad manners, it was a lack of respect for the rules, the coaches, the teammates and even at times the fans and media. It was so bad last season that three players were suspended for violating team rules. One was eventually cut. Players spoke out against each other and coaches - some anonymously, not some not. And accountability, especially with a group of players who simply refused to talk to the media at times, was at an all-time low.
Shurmur believes that teaching players the basic tenets of decency - or "reminding" them, as he put it - is necessary to get players to act and eventually play like a professional.
"Those are things that you know and they're important," Shurmur explained. "I think that's what matters. It's not like a buffet table. If you're going to be a professional, you can't pick one of these, one of these and one of these and then skip all of these.
"I think it's important that they function and live their life in a professional way. And I think if they do that, then they don't have to worry about what they're saying to the media, they don't have to worry about things that come up in their life. They just live a good life, live a very productive life, and then it will translate to their performance on the field."
That's another example of Shurmur being an "adult" - the important way that Gettleman described him right after he was hired. Whether that was meant as a direct shot at McAdoo or not, the implication was as clear as it was in 2004 when the Giants hired the tough-as-nails Coughlin to come in and clean up what they believed was a mess left by Jim Fassel. They wanted a pro who would command respect and reestablish the right way to do things.
That's exactly what they got in Shurmur. And that's exactly what he's doing by re-teaching the "Giants way."
The hope is that the Giants players will act more like adults and professionals, which should in turn make the locker room a functional place again. Some manners and good behavior never hurt anyone - as long as they don't bring that kindness onto the field.
"Well, 'Please' and 'Thank you', we don't want to hear any of that out here," Shurmur said. "I've mentioned how this is man-whipping-man, I get all of that. And there's the physical nature of this game and the reason they're playing it is that they appreciate it and they look for it.
"But we all understand how it goes. We want to make sure that they're good citizens, as well. Most of these guys -- and really all of these guys -- are good citizens. But part of teaching them the right way at the beginning is to remind them that those things are important and those are things that you want to live your life doing.