Von Appen, who has been coaching on the college and pro levels for more than 30 years, joined the Giants on March 13, 2001. He replaced Mac Duff, who left the Giants to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Arizona. Had he not left, he would have been fired. It appears the same was true for von Appen.
"I've known Fred a lot of years, and I have tremendous respect for the job he has done here," Jim Fassel said. "Fred and I came to an understanding that this was the best decision for both of us. We have great regard for Fred, and we've given him an option to consider another role in our organization as he thinks about the future. I've started the process to replace Fred. I'm looking at who the best available people are."
Von Appen was helpless to improve a group of specialty units that have been terrible the past couple seasons. This season, the Giants finished 31st and last in the NFL in kickoff returns with an average of 17.8 yards. The team's punt return average of 8.6 yards was 24th in the league. The punt team was 26th in the NFL, yielding an average return of 12.7 yards, while the kickoff team was 27th, allowing an average return of 23.5 yards. Their opponents' average starting point after a kickoff was the 32.9-yard line, the worst figure in the NFL.
When Mac Duff left, the Giants said they were looking for a young energetic coach to replace him. But they obviously went in a different direction, tabbing the laidback von Appen, who will turn 60 on March 22.