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: Can you describe the meeting you had with management?
A: It lasted as long as it needed to, I don't know, it was 15 minutes or something like that and very good. Everybody said what they wanted to say and again, I reiterated the same things about my respect for them and this organization and I want things handled correctly, professionally and how that is the way it should be. Everybody said a few things, John didn't say much because I was (already) in there. Bob spoke a number of times and he said 'hey listen, I think you've done a hell of a job since you've been here. You got us to the Super Bowl.' He said he has been with this team a long time and it was his first trip and he thanked me for that. I said 'I appreciate that and I thank you guys for all that you have done for me.' They have done a lot of things for me. When I came in here (there were a lot of things) that I thought we needed to change and they have supported me completely with those things.
Q: As you were making your choice, did you ever consider leaving now, the way Dan Reeves did down in Atlanta?
A: No because I started this season and I am going to finish this season. I am not going to walk away. I've asked them to give everything that they can and I'm going to do the same thing for myself. In my opinion and I'm not trying to be critical of Dan – Dan has done this a lot longer than I have and all that – but that is just not the way I was going to do it. I just did not want to do that. I don't mind getting here at 5:30 in the morning and getting home late at night – I got a job to do. That is what they're paying me to do and that is what I am going to do.
Q: Do you think you can be a head coach next year in the NFL?
A: I don't know, I've got the energy to. I'm ready to go. I don't need a year off. Like I said, depending on how many jobs open up, I've been rumored for more than one and we'll see how that has to shake out. But as far as my energy and my attitude and everything else, I'm positive and ready to go and I would welcome that opportunity if it is the right situation. I've explained that to them. They understand that; if I can get a job that I think can compete and will move in the direction I want to move in, then we will do it. If not I don't want to do that. I want to win more than anything.
Q: What was your best and worst memory here?
A: Wow. There are a lot of good ones that I think back on, some of them have mixture in them. Obviously winning the NFC Championship here in front of our fans with the way our fans were, that's indelible – taking the team to the Super Bowl. That is obviously special. One of the ones that put it in perspective I guess was when two years ago on Thanksgiving – that weekend – we lost a tough game. I went home and I just didn't want to talk to anyone, I was by myself. My son John was there, he had flown in for the game and he said 'Dad, how you doing?' I said 'I'm not doing very well. I don't think we played well today and I don't really feel like talking about it much.' He said 'well let me tell you something. Five years from now, you won't even remember who you played or who you lost to, but I will always remember for the rest of my life that I was with you on the sideline Thanksgiving weekend.' That meant a lot to me. It was a tough loss and just a memory.
Q: How would you describe your emotions?
A: I don't know. It will probably (be obvious) after the last game. There are a range of emotions that are all over the place. I wanted to do well here. I wanted to do well. I wanted to finish up and do it a little differently going out, but that is afforded very few in my occupation.
Fassel's Finale Part 2
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