Tom Coughlin stepped to podium for the final time at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and felt a sense of uneasiness for the first time in a long time. The realization that his 12-year reign as the Giants head man was officially over finally sunk in. The normally stoic Coughlin wore his emotions on his sleeve and reflected on a successful coaching career.
“I’ve had two Super Bowl press conferences, I’ve been the head coach during two AFC championship conferences with an expansion team and I’m more nervous about this press conference than anything I’ve done,” stated Coughlin.
Eli Manning, Rashad Jennings, Zak DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and son-in-law Chris Snee sat in the second row to watch the team’s leader bid farewell to a franchise that he delivered two Super Bowl championships to. Victor Cruz also stood in one of the isles listening intently to his coach’s remarks. The press room was packed with Coughlin’s family, current and former players along with media across the country.
Coughlin spoke at length and made sure to acknowledge the contributions of his coaching staff, front office, ownership and players.
“I don't know if I'm any different,” said Coughlin about how he’s adapted since he took the head coaching position back in 2004. “I've changed and I've grown and I've developed and I've learned. You better do that or you're dead. So I've done that. I'm better for it. I'm better for the experiences that I've had. I'm better for the people that I've had a chance to coach and be with. I'm better for that. I'm better for the coaches that have been here, the great coaches. I didn't mention Kevin Gilbride, Sr. I didn't mention some of the guys, Perry Fewell, who just went down the road and won the division in Washington. I didn't mention some of these guys. I can't cover everybody. I hope I didn't leave anybody out from this organization.”
While most in the media were playing this up to be the end of Coughlin’s coaching career, the NFL-lifer admits that his desire to still coach in the NFL is still high.
“Not necessarily,” said Coughlin in response to a question as to whether he extinguished his coaching flame. “Not necessarily.”
Manning took the news especially hard on Monday when it was first announced that Coughlin would be stepping from his post, but Coughlin made it a point to accept the blame for a subpar season and gave a vote of confidence to a quarterback that he helped groom over the last twelve years.
“He can handle it all,” said Coughlin of Manning. “He's done it before. He'll handle it again. He's extremely bright. He's extremely competitive. He's what you want a son to be made out of.”
He thinks he's the reason. He's not the reason. Eli, it's not you, it's not you. It's us. We win, we lose together. When we lose, I lose. When we win, you guys win. That's the way it is. That's the game. I know what it is. I got the game. I got it.
But what I would tell him, he's going to be right in here in about two days starting to work on next year, just like he always does. That's never going to change. God bless him for it.