The following is the first of a three part series:
A seven-year run coaching a professional team is
impressive. A seven-year stint in the Big Apple? Very
impressive. That's what Jim Fassel will leave behind
as he wraps up his Giants career and heads elsewhere.
He'll walk out of Giants Stadium head held high,
statistically one of the best coaches in Giants
history. Fassel recently took some time out to sit
down with TGI for this exclusive question-and-answer
Q: How tough is it to operate knowing you're not going
to be back here?
A: I've had the mental training for a long time. I
used to worry about it when I was a young coach; I
don't worry about it anymore. Don't go into the
military and want to be a green beret and on the front
line if you're afraid of dying. You have to go. It
goes back to what I've always said. When I took this
job seven years ago, I had a couple other
opportunities that might have been a little easier
with a little less pressure. But I wanted to come
here; I wanted to come here. I knew it was a pressure
cooker, but I wanted that challenge. So you can't feel
sorry for yourself when you're having a bad season and
everyone's getting on you. That's just the way it is.
You resolve the fact by looking at your overall record
and what you've accomplished, and though you're
struggling this year, you don't let people beat you
Q: Has anyone in management said anything to you about
your job status?
A: No. It's non-discussable. I don't want to discuss
it. It's not going to change. I get here at 5:30 in
the morning and I'm going to go home at night when my
work's done. Nothing's going to change. One of the
reasons that we're still working and things are
operational is that they look at me as the commander.
Do I have a panicked look on my face or am I out of
sorts? No, I'm just doing my job. That's what I signed
Q: Once it's over, how will you look back on your
seven years here?
A: I don't want to even get into it. I don't think
about it. If things don't work out, I'll be more than
happy to sit down with you and reflect on everything.
But I don't live my life that way. I don't want to
live my life looking back at what could have been or
what should have been. Just keep marching forward.
Q: Several former coaches have said that after a while
a team just needs a change at the top. Your thoughts?
A: That's the way the game is today. There are only
three guys that have held a job longer than I have out
there (Mike Shanahan, Denver; Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh;
Jeff Fisher, Tennessee). And they're not operating in
the cities that I'm operating in. Two of the three
(Shanahan, Cowher) are getting a lot of heat. This is
not a job for the faint of heart. When you add it up,
seven years in New York is a lot harder than 10 years
somewhere else. (Bill) Parcells said it best. A good
shelf life used to be 10 years. Now it's about four.
Some coaches move every three or four years just to
avoid that. To me you overcome the odds. The Jets have
had four coaches while I've been here (Rich Kotite,
Bill Parcells, Al Groh, Herman Edwards). You know the
longer you stay, all anyone goes back to talk about is
the lost games. Nobody goes back and talks about what
good has happened. Since free agency, everybody's been
up and down. The first couple games of the year, the
Philadelphia Eagles were buried. Now all of a sudden
they have all the answers. It's the same guys doing
the same things.
Q: Looking ahead, do you have any idea where you're
going to end up?
A: I'm not worried about my future. I'm doing this
right now for the love of the game. I don't worry
about it because whatever happens to me, I'm going to
be moving in the direction that I want to be moving.
Someone asked me if it's over here, would I still have
the fire to coach. Absolutely I do. Retirement to me
is not on my radar screen. I've heard there are four
or five teams that might be interested in me. That's
just the business we're in. I'm not going to sit
around and worry about it. I focus on what I want to
do and go forward with it.
A Conversation with Jim Fassel Part I
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