Giants Coach Likens Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell to Harry Styles

Giants Coach Likens Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell to Harry Styles

Giants Coach Likens Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell to Harry Styles


Head coach Kevin O’Connell of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The new kid on the block, Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell was likened to the boy band member of the NFL coaching ranks.

New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale spoke on his matchup with the Vikings head coach ahead of Christmas Eve, comparing O’Connell to pop star Harry Styles due to his youth and good looks.

“Kevin [O’Connell] does a great job calling the offense. It’s unfair. I’m the blue-collar guy going against Harry Styles, the good-looking young guy,” the 59-year-old coach said, sparking chuckles from the December 21 press conference. “I really like Kevin I think he’s done a great job, if not only calling the offense, but the entire team.”

Martindale’s comment was the story of the day coming out of New York as the Giants (8-5-1) will look to stop O’Connell’s offense and remain in contention for a spot in the playoffs.

That will prove difficult given the resilience O’Connell has instilled in the Vikings this season.

Kevin O’Connell’s Youth Has Helped a Haggard Vikings Team Find New Life

Martindale’s playful dig at O’Connell is the latest metaphor for the new life the 37-year-old first-year coach has brought to Minnesota.

After players spoke out on what veteran Eric Kendricks called a “fear-based” culture last January, the Vikings organization hoped to go the opposite direction in their next hire for head coach.

O’Connell has preached a culture of authenticity, yet accountability since he arrived in Minnesota. It’s paid dividends with largely the same roster from an underperforming 2021 season to arguably exceeding expectations, clinching the NFC North division title with three games remaining in the season.

“As a former player himself, he understands the demands we face every day and tries to do it in a lighthearted fun way but also hold us to a standard,” defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said of O’Connell. “He’s all about partnerships and connections and bringing the team together. A lot of coaches talk about it but he really, really follows up with that.”

“KO’s way more laid back. He’s a younger coach. He believes in fun. He believes in being yourself,” Justin Jefferson added. “He’s a fun coach to be around and I feel like everybody has just connected to him.”

Kevin O’Connell Draws Upon Rams’ Super Bowl Run in His Culture With Vikings

In two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, O’Connell had his beliefs of what creates a winning culture affirmed with Sean McVay at the helm.

The underlying philosophy: push harder and love harder.

“I had always kind of thought to myself, This is what I want my culture to be like, this is the positive work environment where people can thrive within their roles. Then I got around the guy that does it as well as anybody in our league, as far as building a culture and allowing players to have some ownership and thrive in their roles, which ultimately builds something that can withstand the adversity that inevitably comes,” O’Connell said in August, per “Every NFL team faces adversity in stretches of the season, some more than most, but it’s how you handle it in those times. I think you handle them the best in the type of culture we want to build here, where these players look inward and they look to us for leadership and we look to them for the same thing. And then, ultimately, you just be the same guy every single day, right, wrong or indifferent. You push these guys and coach them hard and let them know that you love them and you care about them and their families and everything that goes into it. We won a Super Bowl doing it that way last season.

“I don’t know that there is another way that you could tell me that works — at least for me. Anything else would be a lack of authenticity, and I believe the players would notice it. If the football is right, things will go well. But when it doesn’t, that’s the true test of… How do you come together? How do you overcome that adversity together? How do you figure out a way like we did last year?”

The Vikings have had their share of adversity this season, overcoming sluggish first halves and third-quarter slumps, only to emerge as the most dangerous team to face with the game on the line. Minnesota leads the NFL with a 66+ fourth-quarter point differential.

O’Connell inherited many problems with the Vikings back in January. Some of those issues still haven’t been fixed. However, he’s led a team built by the past regime on a historic season by leading with love and accountability — an M.O. that has stuck with the players like a pop single.

So here’s to you, “Harry Styles.”