A Conversation with Jim Fassel Part I

"I don't want to live my life looking back at what could have been or what should have been. Just keep marching forward."-Jim Fassel<BR><BR>

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 session.

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 down.

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 on for.

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.

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