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Another Good Coughlin Article


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Tom Coughlin, a man who has spent his entire adult life arriving at places five minutes early and insisting that everyone else do the same, looks like he’ll finally be late for something.




It seems strange to use the “R” word in connection with the Giants coach, because so much of the past two seasons has been spent waiting for a pink slip to be slid under his door. And don’t use it when you’re talking to him with the playoffs days away, unless you want to see that special shade of red that usually only appears on his face in the frozen air of Green Bay.


Still, if the past two weeks ensure that Coughlin will be back next season — and they almost certainly have — then a deep run in the playoffs could guarantee more than that. Coughlin has a chance to make an exit that’s become rare in coaching on any level now.

He has a chance to leave on his own terms.


Nobody gets a lifetime appointment in the NFL anymore. If you think Bill Belichick would be the exception to this rule, check back if the Patriots ever have a couple of 3-13 seasons.


Coughlin is no different. But if he beats the Falcons on Sunday and leads the Giants to the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl, the questions about his job status will go from “How long will the Giants keep him?” to something else entirely: “How long does he want to stay?”


And, if you ask anyone around him, there are no indications that he wants to do anything else than coach this team. It isn’t like his health is going to push him into retirement before he’s ready, either. He is, quite possibly, the youngest 65-year-old man on the planet.


“I think he’ll probably die with his boots on,” Ernie Bono, one of his best friends, said with a laugh Thursday. “He has coached from the day he got out of college and he doesn’t see himself doing anything else.


“He doesn’t know the phrase ‘burn out.’ I know society says you should retire at 65 and start collecting your pension checks, but for him, 65 is 35.”


Bono has known Coughlin since 1995, when the latter was named head coach in Jacksonville, and they work together on the Jay Fund, Coughlin’s charity that helps children with leukemia. It’s the charity that Bono believes will be Coughlin’s true legacy, and for the families it has helped over the years, it is vastly more important than beating the Falcons on Sunday.


In the first four minutes of a 20-minute phone call, Bono used the word “energy” 13 times to describe his friend. He told a story about a mutual friend in Jacksonville who was feeling depressed in retirement, and how Coughlin kept emphasizing the same point when they spoke.


“He tells him, ‘Stay active. Stay active. Stay active,’ ” said Bono, who is also 65. “And within a few days, the guy was back on the golf course,


That’s also the last place Bono expects to find Coughlin in a few years. This isn’t about padding a 142-114 regular-season record or proving his critics wrong. Bono thinks his friend loves what he does too much to walk away from it any time soon, especially when he’s still healthy.


Coughlin is the oldest head coach in the NFL by a full five years. The average age of head coaches at the start of this season was just a hair over 50, and with the demands on that job, that number is trending downward.


“You’re looking at a unique individual who truly loves what he does and is passionate about what he does,” Bono said.


He also has had a pretty good season, even if the 9-7 record is just his fifth-best in eight years. For a coach with a reputation for riding his players too hard — one that, in truth, is dated by about five years now — it was his positive approach that may have helped keep this season from unraveling.


It was three weeks ago, after a home loss to the Redskins, when the Giants were bracing for the worst at a team meeting when Coughlin just turned the page. “Win two games and we’re in the playoffs” was the message the team carried with it throughout the week into its game against the Jets.


The Giants came out with a win over their rivals, and Coughlin came out with a limp. “He got blown up!” is how defensive end Dave Tollefson put it, and while he’s still in pain, he refuses to talk about it.


His routine — up at 5 a.m., two daily workouts, long nights preparing — hasn’t changed. It fuels him. Coughlin was asked at his news conference Thursday if the playoffs gave him a jolt of energy, and the room erupted in laughter when he threw both hands in the air and yelled, “How can you say that?!”


“Sometimes I forget myself he’s 65,” Tollefson said. “He brings a fever and excitement when a lot of guys his age are starting to win down. It feels like he’s just getting started.”


Actually, Coughlin started 43 years ago as a graduate assistant for Syracuse. Now, all these years later with the Giants, he might get the chance to leave on his own terms. Just don’t expect that day to come anytime soon.



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I've always liked Coughlin but let's keep it real... the late-season slumps and his marriages to the team's assistants are troubling.


That being said, I hope he does go out on his own terms.

I've always liked Coughlin but let's keep it real... the late-season slumps and his marriages to the team's assistants are troubling.


That being said, I hope he does go out on his own terms.



:huh: Im not too savy and im not looking it up but didnt you want him gone Seph?

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:huh: Im not too savy and im not looking it up but didnt you want him gone Seph?


Yep. I'd still rather have Cowher.


Call me crazy, but I can remember what this team looked like for seven games this season. I'd just love it if Cough retired instead of got canned.

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This is a classic example of winning solves all. I like Coughlin, he's done well by us. I think he has earned his time with us. That said, the troubling thing for me was the few games this season where we outright lacked effort and lacked motivation. The knowledge and skill was there, but the heart, the desire, the energy just wasn't. And I think that falls on the coaching staff moreso than the players.


At the end of the day, it's a job to most of these guys. And I really don't care that it's a game they're playing, there are days where you're just not up for it. And in the workplace, it's a supervisor's responsibility to get the most out of their staff in the same way it's a coach's job to get the most out of his team. And I think this is where Coughlin failed midseason for us. That's the concern. The losing is one thing. But the getting your ass kicked while not even giving it an honest effort is another.


Had that trend continued and had we missed the playoffs, I really think Coughlin would've been packing right now.

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