The Giants added a trio of members to its Ring of Honor on Monday night. There was two-time Super Bowl winning head coach Tom Coughlin, the general manager who hired him, Ernie Accorsi, and defensive stalwart Justin Tuck.
“I’m kind of a history nut and I thought about this,” Coughlin told the media. “Ninety-two years of franchise in existence, tonight with three inductees, 42 people in the ring of honor. It is something to really think about and there’s an awful lot of humility involved in it because you’re talking about some great Giants.”
Coughlin was the wide receivers coach under Bill Parcells from 1988-90, and was on the staff that won Super Bowl XXV. The Giants asked him to leave Boston College to be the head coach in 1993 but he decided to stick with the Golden Eagles. Then he became the first coach in Jaguars history and led the team to a pair of AFC title games.
After the Giants went 4-12 in 2003, the New York brain trust, including Accorsi, thought Coughlin would be the man to lead Big Blue back to glory. They were correct, as Coughlin would win two Super Bowls against Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
The Giants parted ways with Coughlin after 2015, but wasted no time in honoring him. “It meant a great deal to me,” Coughlin said. “To be honest, at first my dauber was down and I didn’t really appreciate it. But as we got into the season and it got closer and I began to reflect on it and the fantastic experiences I’ve had here.”
A big key in the Super Bowl wins over New England was Justin Tuck, the defensive end from 2005-13 that made Tom Brady’s life miserable when everything was on the line. He recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in Super Bowl XLII, then recorded two more sacks in Super Bowl XLVI.
Tuck, a two-time Pro Bowler, was productive in the regular season and wasn’t overwhelmed by the big games. There are different theories as to why he seemed to save his best for the Super Bowl. “The best one I’ve heard is because I didn’t really approach it any differently than I did any other game,” Tuck said. “I’ve seen guys really get all excited and just out of who they really are. In big games like that, for me, I was always calm and always just approach it like it was ant other day. And a lot of that was me fooling myself because the Super Bowl isn’t any other day but I was able to approach it like that and that’s why I think in those moments I was calm.”
Tuck entered the Ring of Honor with his head coach and the GM that drafted him out of Notre Dame. “If you take out the players, I couldn’t script it any better,” Tuck said. “My coach and my GM. The guys that literally brought me to New York. Two guys that I talked to first back in 2005 when they decided to draft me. Yeah, that’s special.”
Accorsi was the assistant GM from 1994-97 and the GM from 1998-2006. He acquired Kerry Collins, which was a controversial move at the time because of off-field issues. The move paid off when Collins threw five touchdowns and played the game of his life in the 2000 NFC Championship game to lead the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV.
Then he helped build the 2007 team, drafting Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Brandon Jacobs. He signed Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress, among others. And there was that trade for Eli Manning on draft day 2004.
Accorsi’s career of nearly four decades ended in New York. “It’s better to be old and come here because when you’re young, if you ever leave, it isn’t going to be the same anywhere else,” Accorsi said. “There are good organizations but there’s only one New York Giant organization. I’m glad I finished my career here rather than started it because it’s tough to duplicate it.”