Fox faces former team in playoff match-up

Sunday's playoff game will have a little added meaning for Carolina Panthers coach John Fox. This weekend, Fox heads back to New York, where he spent five seasons as the Giants' defensive coordinator before taking over as Panthers head coach in 2002.

Normally, Fox would give it the old this-is-just-another-game routine, but this week he was surprisingly candid about his feelings.

"Any time I go back there, it brings back memories. I am very thankful to the late (co-owners) Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch for the opportunity they gave me," Fox said. "I had a good run there as an assistant coach.

"You are always going to have fond memories of places where you had success. As far as what it means in this exact game, this will be a tough game against a good football team at their place."

Both Mara and Tisch died of cancer during the 2005 NFL regular season.

"It's hard to believe in a short period of time - because they both were very, very healthy when I was there - that they are not on this earth any more," Fox said. "I know Jerry Richardson, my present team owner, was very close to them. Without the two of them, I'm not sure I'm sitting here (with this job)."

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