On Dec. 17, Jim Fassel held more than his usual Wednesday afternoon press conference. In this question and answer session with the New York media, Big Blue's coach was officially discussing for the first time what many knew was a long time coming – he would be let go at season's end. Here are the highlights of Fassel's press conference:
Opening Statement: I've been thinking about this for awhile. Yesterday I went to John Mara and I told him what I wanted to do. I said 'why don't you get your dad and Bob (Tisch) and let's have a meeting.' I got in the meeting with them and I explained to them that they have been outstanding to me. I have a lot of respect for Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch and the way they have treated me both professionally and personally. John Mara has been a guy that has stood by me and done everything that I have asked. He's been a very, very, very important guy to me since I've been here, but I felt like the time had come where I didn't want to put two gentlemen that I respect so much, and an organization that I respect so much, under constant speculation and rumors and everyone talking about it all the time. I want this team to focus on the next two games. I told them I have no intention to resign or quit and that I want to coach the next two games. If that's not okay with them then I will retract what I just offered, but I do this because of my respect for them.
I've been in this organization nine years and they've done a lot for me. Two (years) as an assistant, seven as a head coach, and that's a long time. I have signed five contracts with this team and they have all been very reasonable contract negotiations; very fair. They've been fair to me and I've been loyal to them. So there is no reason that this shouldn't end in a positive way and that is the way I feel. If you think that is taking the high road you're wrong, that is the way I feel. Times come where – in this league it's not long term. Being the head coach for seven years in New York is a very long term and I know that because there are only three guys that have held their job longer than me in this league and that speaks volumes as far as what this league is about right now; you do as much as you can, as fast as you can and you know that there is a day that will come when it's not going right.
This has been a bad season, it has been a very disappointing season and I feel that deeply. So I think it is time for them. They need a change, I need a change and I think it is the right thing to do. I've worked with Ernie Accorsi extremely well. He's a guy that we've been able to work so well together to change the attitude in here – all decisions are based upon what's best for the New York Giants, not egos or anything else. I know when I came here there was a lot of things going on in this organization and I think we've improved a lot of things – a tremendous amount of things; the position of the New York Giants and to continue to move forward. But Ernie has been great. We've worked well together. I've worked with two general managers, three directors of college scouting, two directors of pro scouting, four coordinators. There has been change, there is change in this occupation and you have to be ready for it. I'm not opposed to it. I think sometimes it is good for all parties concerned. With that, like I said, this organization has meant a lot to me and I want to do the right thing for them.
Q: Had they told you prior to yesterday that you would not return next year?
A: We had had no prior discussions. You guys know me well enough by now, if I feel like I'm losing control of the situation I will take action. I just sat there long enough and I said it is time to take some action on this and they supported me on it. They were very good and we had no discussion about next year.
Q: Did you just assume that you wouldn't be returning next year?
A: I made the assumption and I also told them 'if I say anything that is incorrect, just let me know.' There was not a conversation and listen, I know this for a fact – they're hurting because they did not want this to come to this. I told John Mara, it was the hardest walk I've had down to his office. I did not want to walk down there under these circumstances, I wanted to walk down there and say 'I've had enough, I'm tired and it's time to move on,' under better circumstances. But it is not easy on them because of our relationship – because of a lot of things. My point in this is just to ease the burden on them and get them out of the fray of all the speculation and all the people calling about what's going to happen next year and make them answer questions. It gives them the freedom of if there are college guys that they want to talk to they can go about their business without feeling like they're operating behind my back, which I knew they wouldn't do.
Q: Do you have any regrets?
A: Yeah, there are certain regrets. Obviously my goal when I came here was to deliver a Super Bowl win. We got there and we fell short, I wanted to go back. To me winning here and making this a proud franchise has always been about making Wellington and Bob happy. There are little regrets as you go along, little ones that you look back on and...I don't know. It's hard to really – I have a lot of great memories.
Q: How did the team react this morning?
A: I think good. I think good. Like a lot of things, they look at me and how I'm handling it. I looked around that room and there were some guys that have been here for awhile and have been through a lot of tough times and good battles with me and I saw the disappointment in their eyes. Some of those guys – the Tiki Barbers and the Ike Hilliards and some of the other guys that have been here for awhile – they don't know another coach in the National Football League. I said to them, 'you're fortunate, because in this league, you look around and since I've been here people we play or are right near us they've had three coaches or four.' It is unsettling on players, it really is. It is unsettling on an organization. I feel for those guys.
Q: How much better do you feel now that this is out in the open?
A: Honestly not much. I feel better because my purpose in this was to try to relieve the ownership of not having to answer questions and repeat 'we'll discuss it at the end of the season,' when I know that they are astute people and they have to be thinking about it and they have to be considering it or talking about it. It is always difficult to stand up here and answer questions when you already know the answer, but you're not going to talk about it right now. That was the main purpose. It didn't relieve me of anything. I'm still in the middle of a season, I still feel the same way; very disappointed about how the season has gone.
Fassel's finale Part 1
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