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Coughlin, Giants Laying Claim As “America’s Military Team”


The Dallas Cowboys might be “America’s team.”

The New York Giants might be “America’s military team.”

The Giants have embraced those who have served the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two seasons ago, Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007, helped inspire the Giants to a Super Bowl victory after the team’s 0-2 start. Gadson played football at Army and was a teammate of Giants receivers coach Mike Sullivan. Sullivan invited Gadson to a Giants-Redskins game, and the lieutenant colonel talked to the team before the game. It was the beginning of the Giants’ 10-game road winning streak.

Over the summer, Giants coach Tom Coughlin visited with troops in Iraq along with fellow coaches Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher and John Harbaugh. Coughlin has become friends with Gadson and Gen. Raymond Odierno, the American military commander in Iraq and a Giants fan from New Jersey, and the coach has a deep appreciation for the military.

“Very inspirational, very moving … a sincere eye-opener,” Coughlin said of his visit. “I was very moved by the politeness of the soldiers, their enthusiasm, their attitude, and the idea that they understood exactly what they were there for … was just a great experience for us. Our whole message while we were over there was to thank the troops for what they had sacrificed.”

After a recent practice, Coughlin met with Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Mike Leonardo, who gave Coughlin a United States flag that had flown in Iraq for the past year while Leonardo was there. Leonardo said he wore a Giants hat as often as he could while in Iraq.

“This was very significant to me,” Coughlin said, who added he might display the flag in his office.

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