Interview: The Man Who’s Beaten Bill Belichick More Than Anyone Else

Kiss it, Brady.

Montauk Brewing Co. Talks with NFL Coach Kevin Gilbride

We asked 30 people who we admire to each interview one person they admire. That’s the concept behind the Interview Issue presented by Design Within Reach.

Vaughan Cutillo is, well, you know Vaughan by now. Kevin Gilbride is the retired professional football coach Vaughan chose to interview. As offensive coordinator of the Giants, Gilbride is one of the few in the NFL who have figured out how to outscore Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in Super Bowls.

Offensive coordinating

Coach Gilbride started at Idaho State as a Graduate Assistant in 1974 and there started his coaching career. He was a linebacker coach who didn’t have defensive coaching experience. He was also given an opportunity he wasn’t expecting. 

Kevin Gilbride: Part of the opportunity was pretty interesting, since I was a Graduate Assistant I was placed as part-time coach of the women’s basketball team. We won too, we had a great season and they offered me the head coaching job the next year. My wife and I are East Coast born and bred though, and we weren’t interested in staying out in Pocatello (city where Idaho State is located)
I returned back east, first at Tufts and then I spent five years at my Alma Mater, Southern Connecticut State. We went 35-14-2, we had good players and I really enjoyed that. I became somewhat frustrated as I was applying for, and being turned down for, D1 coaching positions. The guys getting the jobs, I was beating those guys during the season. I figured the next opportunity to fill that void in my resume, I’d take it. I needed to earn a job as assistant for a D1 or pro program.

That opportunity came in Canada. Albeit those couple of years were upheaved by folding teams (Ottawa Rough Riders closed their doors while Coach Gilbride was in the airport leaving the stadium.) Those years were influential, though.  He learned the run and shoot offense that he would implement in much of his strategy in the future years. During our interview, Coach spoke about meeting June Jones and Darryl “Mouse” Davis, two coaches who had lasting impressions on Gilbride’s style of coaching.

KG: My first shot in the NFL was with the Houston Oilers. I think ESPN did a 30 for 30 on the 1993 team, the best team in the NFL never to win a Super Bowl, I believe was the title. I had the opportunity to work with Warren Moon (Hall of Fame Quarterback) and guys like Bruce Matthews (Offensive Lineman) and Mike Munchak (Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman).

 Moon would mention Coach Gilbride in his NFL Hall of Fame induction speech:   “I want to thank Jerry Glanville, Jack Pardee, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach June Jones for helping turn my career around in those early days, and then Kevin Gilbride, my offensive coach and quarterback coach who is here today as a member of the New York Giants for really taking my career and taking me to the next level. I really want to thank you for all the efforts that you showed me as coaches to make me the best player I could be.”

VC: So let’s talk about the Giants. You won two Super Bowls as Offensive Coordinator. Coach Tom Coughlin said, “Kevin was the play-caller in those Super Bowl wins. He has done a great service to the franchise.” What were those teams like, what made them special and what was it like to beat Coach Belichick?
KG: Well first off, I have the utmost respect for him and what he’s accomplished. But I wasn’t in awe. The respect is there, of course, but there was zero trepidation because I had beaten him multiple times before.

The ability for players to block out fear and keep playing is rare.

Schematically, intellectually we had the plays and the confidence to win that game.

The team had two standout qualities to me. The most important collective characteristic of that team was an ability to stay in the moment. They played looking forward, not looking back at the previous play. The ability for players to block out fear and keep playing is rare. That team was resilient, yes, maybe the best way to describe those guys. Resilient.

The second part that stood out to me was the offensive line. That group epitomized the Giants that year. They were all good, maybe not great individually, as a group they were certainly great.

 Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star wrote about Coach Gilbride in 2016, with the headline, “The man who’s beaten Bill Belichick more than anyone else has some advice for the Chiefs.” 

VC: Coach, what are your thoughts on today’s players in the NFL?
KG: I was asked by the league office to speak to a group of players and coaches about how to motivate, how to run meetings. To be honest, the PowerPoint way of running meetings passed me by. One thing that stood out was they kept referring to the players as individual brands, rather than a collective team. That is foreign to me. Guys like Eli (Manning) take some heat, but at the heart of it—his teammates know he’s the most prepared guy on the field. He does his homework, has a consistent work ethic, he praises his teammates, it’s not about him it is about the team—the welfare of the team.

VC: So I hear you enjoy fishing. Any other hobbies?
KG: I need to make it to Montauk, never been and I hear it really is an incredible place to fish. I was into golf a little bit, but I really love spending time with my kids. Kelly, Kristen, and Kevin, and my wife Debbie. I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms away from my family so I love spending more time with them these days.

VC: How much does Kevin Gilbride bench press?
KG: [laughing] 275 for 8 not too long ago. More like 225 these days.

VC: What kind of music do you listen to, before games, in your down time?
KG: I have a pretty eclectic music style, at least I’ve been told. Warren Moon used to ask me if I was a theatre guy because of the music I listened to. I was never into theatre, but Warren would go often. I’m into it now, actually! I’ve been to Les Miserables maybe five times. I’m a country fan, ’60s and ’70s music, as well.

VC: I can’t thank you enough, Coach. Please come down to Montauk soon and we’ll put you on some fish.

From The Interview Issue

Presented by Design Within Reach