A Conversation with Jim Fassel Part II

"The assumption is that if you don't play well that the team's quit. That's ridiculous."-Jim Fassel <BR><BR>

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 session.

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 players?

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' question.

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 their guys?

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 just go.

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