(David Pokress/Sportsday Wire)
Tom Coughlin knew how tough of a decision this was for the Giants.
He knew the Maras and the Tisches were divided on this issue.
And the loyal Giant at the end, instead of dividing the organization took the decision away from them.
Coughlin fell on his sword.
“I met with John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach,” Coughlin said in a statement. “I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and as I said, the Giants organization.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as head coach of the New York Football Giants. 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. A Lombardi Trophy every five years is an achievement in which we all take great pride.”
This was the best possible outcome for the Giants. In the end there were no hard feelings and no hateful divorces. Instead you have a two time Super Bowl winning coach say it was time for him to move on. Now the organization can move on. Now they can turn to a new head coach, who can turn this situation around.
Eli Manning seemed to know today as he got emotional with reporters.
“It is [a tough day],” he said. “We’ll see what happens but we’ll handle whatever occurs and move on.”
Twelve years is a long time. When Coughlin took the job in 2004, Art Howe was managing the Mets with David Wright just a rookie. Joe Torre was just finishing up the Yankee Dynasty. And Herm Edwards was on the Jets sidelines.
Henrik Lundqvist was a prospect on the Rangers and the Isiah Thomas Circus was in full force for the Knicks.
Look whatever happens, this is an end of an era for the Giants. Coughlin was the last of the old time coaches who handled everything with dignity and honor. He was revered throughout the league, and there was nary a bad word said about him.
Maybe that is why he decided to step away. The story started becoming about him. Over the past few weeks it almost became a distraction to the team. Coughlin always believed the story should be about his players.
And if the Giants decided to keep him, the story wouldn’t go away next year either. One bad loss and he would be on the hot seat. And it would be tough to keep a locker room if the players knew you were on the way out.
So this was the only solution. The owners knew it.
“It is difficult to come up with words adequate to describe the appreciation we have for everything Tom Coughlin has done for our franchise,” Mara said in a statement. “In addition to delivering two Super Bowl titles, Tom represented us with class and dignity, and restored the pride to our entire organization. He has all the qualities you could ever ask for in a head coach, and set very high standards for whoever will succeed him.”
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank Coach Coughlin for how he has represented our franchise for the past 12 years,” said Tisch. “He embodies the beliefs of this organization and everything the New York Giants stand for. I respect his decision, and while I appreciate Tom’s perspective and attitude, at the same time, I am a bit saddened today because we are losing a man who is just as good a person as he is a coach. He is a Hall of Famer in every regard.”
Coughlin reportedly may take another job and the Giants are now on the coaching carousel. They may promote offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but more likely will look for a more experienced coach. It will be interesting to see if they pursue Sean Payton.
But that’s tomorrow’s story. Today’s is an appreciation of the class and dignity Coughlin gave the Giants over his tenure. He is just one of 13 coaches who can claim more than one Super Bowl victories and his 102 wins are the second most in Giants history after Steve Owen’s 151.
There may never be a coach like this again and today’s actions just prove that point.