After 12 years and two Super Bowl titles, Tom Coughlin is no longer the coach of the New York Giants.
Coughlin resigned after meeting with Giants ownership Monday, one day after New York completed its third consecutive losing season. Coughlin, 69, coached the Giants for 12 seasons, leading them to two Super Bowl championships.
“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.”
The Giants have scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to address Coughlin’s resignation. Coughlin will be in attendance, along with Mara, Tisch and Giants general manager Jerry Reese.
“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 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.”
The Giants’ third straight losing season is a fate that hadn’t befallen the franchise since it had eight straight losing seasons from 1973 to 1980. The Giants have missed the playoffs four years in a row and six of the last seven, though the one year in that stretch they did make it ended up in a Super Bowl championship.
“Obviously, the past three years have not been what any of us expect, and as head coach, I accept the responsibility for those seasons,” Coughlin’s statement read. “I think it has been evident these last 12 years here how much pride I take in representing this franchise. I am gratified and proud that we were able to deliver two more Lombardi trophies to the display case in our lobby during that time. That is a tribute to our players and staff, and it was truly fulfilling to be the leader of those teams.
“I appreciate the support of John and his family and Steve and his family, and of Jerry Reese and his staff. I think our organization is a great representation of what I mean when I talk about ‘team.'”
A former Giants wide receivers coach who spent three years on Bill Parcells’ staff from 1988 to 1990, Coughlin became the Giants’ head coach in 2004, after a nine-year run as the first coach in the history of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. That was the same year the Giants traded up in the first round of the draft to select quarterback Eli Manning.
Coughlin promoted Manning to the starting quarterback job midway through the 2004 season, and the two went on to have great success together, though it wasn’t always smooth and easy.
“He has been a great coach to play for,” Manning said. “Learned so much from him from an early age when I got here to every year. Just to meet with him and talk football and X’s and O’s and strategy … he has a great football mind and loves what he does, has great passion. He is an example of how you should handle your job and love what you are doing.”
Coughlin came to New York with a reputation as a stern disciplinarian, famously proclaiming in his introductory news conference that injuries were “a mental thing,” and something to be “corrected.”
Coughlin’s old-school methods chafed some of his players, most notably Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, who to this day says he still doesn’t understand why you need to be five minutes early to a meeting to be considered “on time.” And after going 11-5 in his second season in New York, he went 8-8 in 2006 and appeared in danger of losing his job.
But things turned around in 2007, when the Giants recovered from an 0-2 start to finish 10-6, win a wild-card spot and upset the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That run included a second-round playoff victory over the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys and an overtime victory in Green Bay in an NFC Championship Game that became famous for Coughlin’s red, frozen face.
The following year, the Giants went 12-4 and secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs but lost star receiver Plaxico Burress when he shot himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub — an offense for which Burress would end up doing jail time. The Giants lost their first playoff game that season and missed the playoffs in each of the next two seasons.
But in 2011, after losing to Washington in Week 15 to fall to 7-7, the Giants rebounded with a Christmas Eve victory over the Jets and a division-clinching Week 17 victory over Dallas to win the NFC East. They won playoff games on the road in Green Bay and San Francisco before facing and defeating the Patriots once again in Super Bowl XLVI.
Recent years have not ended as well for Coughlin. The Giants started 0-6 in 2013 and, while they rallied in the second half, they still finished 7-9 — Coughlin’s first losing season since his 6-10 debut season in New York in 2004. They followed that with a 2014 season that featured a seven-game losing streak and ended with a 6-10 record. And then this year, they were unable to take advantage of a weak NFC East, as late-season losses to Washington and the Jets knocked them out of the playoffs and they finished 6-10 (7-9).
Coughlin’s final record as Giants head coach was 110-92, including playoff games. Counting his time in Jacksonville (and the playoff games he coached there), he is 182-156 as an NFL head coach. His regular-season win total of 170 ranks 12th in NFL history — somewhat poetically right behind Parcells’ total of 172.
“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.
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