Yesterday, one of the NFL’s most recognizable figures stepped down.
After a disappointing 6-10 season that kept his team out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin resigned.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants,” Coughlin said in a statement. “This is a not a sad occasion for me. I have spent 15 years with this organization as an assistant and head coach and was fortunate to be part of three Super Bowl winning teams.”
Coughlin’s first experience with the Giants was as a member of Bill Parcells’ staff. He served as Wide Receivers Coach from 1988-1990. He was part of the Giants’ team that won Super Bowl XXV, then was hired to lead Boston College’s football team. We was at BC from 1991-1993, then got a shot at running an NFL club when he was hired as the first head coach for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin was in Florida from 1995-2002, was out off the sidelines for a season, and then was brought back to lead the Giants in 2004. He led the Giants to a championship in 2008, the team’s first Super Bowl title in 17 years, then added another four years later.
Coughlin steps down with a career record of 170-150. Those 170 wins puts him two victories out of the all-time top 10. It’s worth nothing that 68 of those wins came with the Jaguars, an expansion team he helped build from the ground up. And then, of course, there are the two Vince Lombardi Trophies the coach brought to New York.
Over the course of his 12 years with the Giants, he brought stability to the team. Consider: Since Coughlin took over the Giants in 2004, the Jaguars and Titans have had five coaches, the Browns have had six, and the Raiders have had eight. Coughlin is the second-longest tenured coach in Giants history, and he’s the only coach two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning has ever known.
One of the other defining aspects of Coughlin’s career was his ability to change. Prior to the 2007 season, he was seen as a hard-core disciplinarian, earning the nickname “Colonel Coughlin.” People — especially players — were “afraid to have fun” with him around. But before the 2007 season, Coughlin changed his ways and became someone people wanted to be with. That helped him become one of the most popular coaches in the NFL.
But perhaps the greatest legacy of Tom Coughlin is his desire to give back. His charity, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, supports children with cancer by raising money with events like the 2015 Sundae Blitz or the upcoming 2016 Wine Tasting Gala. The Jay Fund is one of the NFL’s most well known charities and received a 4 star rating from charitynavigator.com, the highest rating the site can give to a charity.
At 69 years old, Coughlin’s resignation from the Giants likely means the end of his NFL career. If that’s the case, he walks away as a lock for the Hall of Fame: Three Super Bowls, five division titles, 170 wins, and a rock of stability for one of the league’s highest-profile franchises.
But the most important thing that Coughlin left behind can’t be measured by any statistic. His endless passion for the game can be matched by few others.
So goodbye, Tom Coughlin. The Giants will miss you. But I’m confident we’ll see you in Canton.
Editor’s note: J.J. Post is distantly related to Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is J.J.’s grandfather’s cousin.
Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images (wave), Larry French/Getty Images (Super Bowl)