A thank you from a hardened New York Giants fan to one of the greatest coaches in the illustrious history of the franchise, Tom Coughlin.
By Justin Weiss
Tom Coughlin, former head coach of the New York Giants, is a combination of football brilliance, paramount discipline, and near laughable curmudgeon. He is Angry Grandpa. He is Red Tomato. He is Gringotts Bank Goblin.
To watch Coughlin on the sidelines during a game is to watch a frozen sculpture of an angry witch for three consecutive hours. A “what the —- just happened” look is always scowl-scrawled on his face. Only one emoticon is needed to be employed to describe the look on his countenance from a half-hour before kickoff to the final kneel.
“Fire Coughlin” chants bellowed forth at Metlife Stadium, even after Big Blue twice reached the pinnacle of the league under the disciplinarians reign. This is why “Angry Tom Coughlin Is My Favorite Tom Coughlin” was actually the title of an article in 2012. “Tom Coughlin is always angry” was once the name of a group on Facebook.
Tom Coughlin is also one of the greatest coaches in the history of football.
That is the military term for mission accomplished. It’s also the term used by Tom Coughlin with the same meaning.
When Coughlin arrived in New York, in 2003, he was known for fining players who showed up to practice two minutes early. Mentored by legendary coaches Bill Parcells and John Wooden, Coughlin has the reputation of being a stern disciplinarian and über-meticulous planner.
His daily routine puts his philosophy into perspective. Every day, at 5:30 a.m., he arrives at the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. At 6:10 a.m., he has a breakfast session that is dictated by an excel spreadsheet detailing his every move. Following a short coffee break, in which he wanders around the locker room (it is even spelled out on his spreadsheet), he has a team meeting with coaches and team personnel. Sharing his dinner time later in the day with the scouting team, he budgets his time just about as meticulously as one possibly can.
When informed about Coughlin’s routine by Conor Orr of NJ Advanced Media, Chris Snee had a simple response:
“That,” his son-in-law, Snee said, “does not surprise me at all.”
When former punter Steve Weatherford, then new to the Giants, was competing for a job with the team, he was terrified of one man: “Colonel Coughlin.”
He would end up speaking out in support of Coughlin, like so many others, following his retirement.
I had the honor to play for a legend. Thank you coach Coughlin
— Justin Pugh (@JustinPugh) January 4, 2016
TC is an exceptional coach and an even better person. It’s been a honor to play for a HoF coach. Thank you Coach Coughlin
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) January 4, 2016
It has been one of the greatest honors of my life and career to be lead by Tom Coughlin, my life will forever be changed. #legacy #NFL#gmen
— Josh Brown (@Kickingitwith3) January 4, 2016
Coach Tom Coughlin is as an upstanding man as you fill find in the NFL or life. I learned that in just one year. Thank you Coach.
— Marshall Newhouse (@MNewhouse74) January 4, 2016
Coach Coughlin taught me how to be a professional with respect, class and focus. I am eternally thankful. I'll be at the HOF ceremony. ??
— The Missile™ (@NatBerhe) January 4, 2016
Great coach and an even greater man. Thank you TC for everything you have taught me on and off… https://t.co/oGWGOsuoT1
— Markus Kuhn (@themarkuskuhn) January 4, 2016
Thank you Tom Coughlin for demanding the very best from myself/teammates every single day. Respect is not given, it's earned #NYG 2xSBChamps
— David Diehl (@davediehl66) January 4, 2016
"A great coach and an even better man. He has left his mark on this great franchise and his legacy of excellence is secure." – Ernie Accorsi
— New York Giants (@Giants) January 4, 2016
Honored to have called the man coach! #TC
— Bennett Jackson Jr. (@B_Jax2) January 4, 2016
— Geremy Davis (@gday85) January 4, 2016
The realest coach I've ever had the luxury of playing for. It was a true honor to play for a man… https://t.co/b6WJvZ4D8T
— Victor Cruz (@TeamVic) January 4, 2016
— Shaun O'Hara (@ShaunOHara60) January 4, 2016
? + H.O.F = pic.twitter.com/67UBVvomsz
— Prince Amukamara (@PrinceAmukamara) January 4, 2016
An honor to play for such a legendary coach, learned so many great lessons from coach Coughlin!… https://t.co/LRq53WWkZ2
— Devon Kennard (@DevonKennard) January 4, 2016
As I sit back and reflect on Coach Tom Coughlin, I remember all the one on ones in your office… https://t.co/WyZdYPIVkz
— Justin Tuck (@JustinTuck) January 4, 2016
It was an honor to be a part of the shining legacy that Coach Coughlin created for himself and for our team.
— Andre Williams (@drewill44) January 4, 2016
This picture really needs no caption!?? As a player who has been in this league 11years and can… https://t.co/clEBW09BeH
— Antrel Rolle (@antrelrolle26) January 4, 2016
The 69-year-old native of Waterloo, New York exploded onto the scene in 1990, when he reversed the fate of a dying program and made them a perennial powerhouse in the ACC. During his stint with the Boston College Eagles, Coughlin turned the team into a consistent winner. In 1993 his squad beat number one ranked Notre Dame 41-39, providing BC with their first ever victory over the Fighting Irish.
Impressed by his success in the FBS, the Jacksonville Jaguars, a new expansion team, hired Coughlin to be their first head coach. In eight seasons at Jacksonville, Coughlin was at the helm of one of the most succesful expansion team’s in league history, making the playoffs four consecutive times and leading his team to the conference championships twice.
In 1999, Coughlin’s Jags had, at the time, the greatest record for an expanision team in NFL history, at 14-2. After winning 49 regular season games over his first five seasons as Jaguars head coach, his team went 19-29 over his final three years at its helm. He was fired by owner Wayne Weaver in 2002, who later said that one of his biggest regrets as team owner was letting Coughlin go.
In January 2004, Coughlin was hired by Wellington Mara to replace Jim Fassel as Giants head coach. That year New York traded up for the first pick in the draft, Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning.
The Giants would finish 6-10 in Coughlin’s first year as head coach of the club; most likely due to external pressures to bench veteran Kurt Warner in favor of the newly drafted and not yet ready Manning.
However, the next four seasons would produce different results, with the Giants making the playoffs four consecutive times. In 2007, a year after talented but flawed running back Tiki Barber retired from the game, New York won the Super Bowl, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, and finally the previously 18-0 New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The G-Men would go onto winning 12 games in 2008, but after failing to qualify for the playoffs the next two seasons (even though they finished 10-6 in 2010), Coughlin’s club hoisted their second Vince Lombardi Trophy in five years when they once again beat Tom Brady’s Pats in Super Bowl XLII.
After finishing atop the league in 2011, Coughlin’s team went on a four year playoff drought that ultimately culminated in the 12-year veteran stepping down as head coach of the New York Football Giants on Monday, January 4, 2015.
Shock. Confusion. Disbelief.
Even though it was rumored for weeks, those were my emotions, today, when Coughlin revealed, after a lengthy meeting with team owners, that his time with the Giants would be coming to a close.
“I met with John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach. I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and as I said, the Giants organization.”
My childhood revolved around watching a 60+ year old roam the sidelines with a look of disbelief plastered onto his face.
This news is going to take a little while to sink in.