This is the second 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: Is your job status hurting the team?
A: Of course it is. It comes in under the category of
distractions. When you're not having a good season and
aren't going to make the playoffs, then all the other
peripheral stuff becomes distractions. Our job is to
get ready to play football games. I try to keep it
that way with the players as well.
Q: Do you pay attention to the feedback of your
A: I read the papers. I read them mainly to find out
about our opponents. I don't read the papers when
things are going well to stroke my ego. And I don't
read them to figure out what people are saying when
things are going bad. I think the guys have had very
strong opinions about how they feel about me. It might
not matter to anyone else, but it matters to me.
Q: Duck. Here comes the 'have you lost the team'
A: There are certain things that everybody assumes.
And it does happen, there's no question. But you have
to have a strong relationship with your team. There
has to be a respect there. If not, all hell is going
to break loose. I'm proud of my guys. They're stand-up
guys. That pleases me. The common thought and question
is 'are you going to quit?' Is this team going to
quit? Is that team going to quit? The assumption is
that if you don't play well that the team's quit.
That's ridiculous. Did you watch Michael Strahan
(against the Redskins)? He played his butt off. Tiki Barber? The way he was running that ball and fighting?
You have to be kidding me. Kerry Collins, the way he
was standing in there when they were storming the
gates? You have to be kidding me. This team quit? No.
Q: Do you feel that your players let you down?
A: No, I think they tried. Sometimes that's the
culmination. A guy like Tiki Barber, everyone talks
about the fumbles. Well he's our back. People want to
call for me to bench him. As a head coach you have to
be a little more stable in your thinking. I'm looking
at it like Ahman Green in Green Bay had one more
fumble that he did; he wasn't getting benched. Jamal Lewis in Baltimore had one less and he wasn't getting
benched. Troy Hambrick, if he had the same amount of
carries, had one less than Tiki Barber. He wasn't
getting benched. You take those three coaches and
they're not benching their guy either. And Tiki was as
productive as all those backs. You think I'm wrong for
not benching him when those three guys aren't benching
Q: How do you avoid getting to a point where you just
throw your hands up and give up?
A: You have to train yourself over the years with
mental toughness. It's what I expect from everybody
else. You have to be tougher than the situation. You
can't let all the other things distract you. You just
have to go about your business. You can have a lot of
distractions and have a lot of people pounding at you.
You have to keep your head up, your eyes forward and
A Conversation with Jim Fassel Part II
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