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The Men Who Made Them Giants

In conjunction with the vote for the All-time Giants head coach, we thought you might enjoy a synopsis of every head coach the Giants have ever had. So let’s get right to it.

  • Bob Folwell (1925): Folwell came to the New York Football Giants following a successful coaching stint at Navy. He led the Giants to an 8-4 record in their first year in the league, and then left to take over as head coach of the Philadelphia Quakers of the original American Football League.
  • Joe Alexander (1926): Alexander was an All-Star player for the Giants from 1925-1927, and in 1926 he also served as head coach. Also a practicing medical doctor, Alexander was one of the few Giants to receive a yearly salary. He relinquished the position of head coach for his final season in 1927. Alexander is also a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

  • Earl Potteiger (1927-28): Potteiger took over as player-coach of the Giants in 1927, and led them to their first NFL Championship. The Giants were 11-1-1 in 1927, allowing a TOTAL of 20 points in the season. Potteiger was fired along with 18 players after posting a 4-7-2 record in 1928.

  • Leroy Andrews (1929-30): Andrews came to the Giants after having been a player-coach for the Kansas City Blues/Cowboys and head coach of the Detroit Wolverines. He led the Giants to a 13-1-1 record in 1929, only to be outdone by the Packers, who went 12-0. In 1930 he had an 11-4 record when he was succeeded by co-player coaches Benny Friedman and Steve Owen. The Giants scored a lot of points under Andrews, 312 in 1929, and 308 in 1930, which are astounding numbers when you consider the fact that it was all done with the rushing game


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    Steve Owen (1931-1953):
    A true pioneer of the game of football After serving as a co-player coach in 1930, Steve Owen was named head coach of the Giants for the 1931 season, continuing as a player to the end of the 1931 season, with a brief comeback in 1933. Owens compiled a record of 151-100-17 as Giants coach, winning the NFL title in 1934 and 1938, and 10 division championships. Steve Owen was the inventor of the "Umbrella Defense", a system that became the basis for today’s 4-3. Owen is also credited with the creation of the A Formation offense. He resigned as head coach in 1953. Owen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.

  • Jim Lee Howell: (1954-1960): Jim was a player for the Giants in the 30’s and again in the mid-40’s after returning from World War II before being hired to replace his mentor Steve Owen as head coach. The Giants performed well under Howell, playing in 3 title games, and winning the NFL Championship in 1956, when the Giants won their 2nd "Sneakers Game" over the Bears, 47-7 at Yankee Stadium. Howell was a master at recognizing talent, and delegating responsibility to his assistants. This was a smart move on Howell’s part, since his Offensive Coordinator was Vince Lombardi, and his Defensive Coordinator was Tom Landry. Howell once remarked that his job was to "blow up footballs and keep order". He retired as coach after the 1960 season, but remained with the Giants as Director of Player Personnel until 1981. He finished with a coaching record of 53-27-4.

  • Allie Sherman (1961-1968): Allie Sherman was named head coach in 1961 after 2 stints on the Giants coaching staff and 4 seasons as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. In 1961 he led the Giants to a 10-3-1 record and a berth in the NFC Championship game, which the Giants lost 37-0 to Green Bay. In 1962 Sherman became the first coach to ever be named Coach of the Year two years in a row as the Giants went 12-2 but again lost to the Packers in the NFL Championship game, 16-7. The 1963 season saw the Giants go 11-3 and again reach the NFL Championship game, only to fall again, this time to the Bears, 14-10. 1964 was the start of the infamous "Wilderness Years" as age caught up with many Giant players. After 4 more lackluster seasons, including a 1966 season that saw the Giants win a franchise-worst 1 game, Allie was fired after the Giants lost all their preseason games in 1969, finishing his head coaching career with a record of 57-51-4. Allie is a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame


  • Alex Webster (1969-1973): "Big Red" was a player for the Giants in the late 50’s and 60’s, and took over as head coach after Allie Sherman was fired. Webster was named Coach of the Year in 1970, when the Giants finished 2nd with a 9-5 record, but never made the playoffs during his tenure. He left the Giants after 1973, with a record of 29-40-1


  • Bill Arnsparger (1974-1976): Arnsparger had been the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, and the architect of the "No-Name Defense" that helped win two Super Bowls. Arnsparger took over the Giants during a time of transition. Yankee Stadium was being readied for a major renovation into a baseball-only stadium, and the new stadium in NJ was still 3 years away. Playing home games at the Yale Bowl and Shea Stadium, the Giants were a woeful 7-26, and Arnsparger was fired 7 games into the 1976 season, with the Giants at 0-7.

  • John McVay (1976-1978): McVay was a head coach in the WFL when he was hired by the Giants as an assistant coach in 1976. When Bill Arnsparger was fired after 7 games, McVay took over as head coach, and the Giants went 3-4 the rest of the way, finishing 3-11. 1977 saw the Giants go 5-9 and finish last. 1978…."The Fumble", 6-10, McVay was fired at the end of the season, finishing with a record of 14-23 as Giants coach.

  • Ray Perkins (1979-1982): Perkins was hired as head coach by new GM George Young after being an assistant with the Patriots and Chargers. After disappointing 1979 and 1980 seasons, Perkins returned the Giants to the playoffs in 1981, after a thrilling overtime win over Dallas when Joe Danelo boots a FG to propel the Giants to a win. The Giants then upset the defending NFC Champion Eagles at "The Vet" before losing in the divisional round to the eventual Super Bowl Champion 49-ers. Perkins resigned to return to Alabama after a strike marred 1982 season that saw the Giants finish 4-5. His career record is 23-34.

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    Bill Parcells (1983-1990):
    Duane Charles Parcells was named the Giants 12th head coach on December 15th, 1982. One of his first moves as head coach was one of his most infamous, when he named Scott Brunner the starting QB. The results were a disaster as the Giants finished 3-12-1. It was also a tough year for Parcells personally, as he suffered through the death of backfield coach and friend Bob Ledbetter midway through the season. Rumors were rampant after 1983 that George Young was going to fire Parcells and hire University of Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger. Parcells was retained, and in 1984, with Simms back at the helm, the Giants returned to the playoffs finishing 9-7, beating the Rams in the Wild Card, and losing again to the eventual Super Bowl Champion 49ers. In 1985, the Giants finished 10-6, and made the playoffs as a Wild Card. In their first playoff game ever at Giants Stadium, the Giants got their revenge on the 49ers, but then fell to the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears, 21-0 at Soldier Field, a game best known for the Landeta "whiff". In 1986, the Giants went 14-2, and with a stifling defense led by NFL MVP Lawrence Taylor and and an offense quarterbacked by Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms, the Giants were World Champions. 1987 was again marred by a strike, and teams were forced to use replacement players. By the time the Giants returned to work, they were 0-5. They went 6-4 the rest of the year, but it wasn’t enough, and the Giants missed the playoffs. The Giants again missed the playoffs in 1988 after a heart breaking loss to the Jets in the final game. 1989 saw the Giants return to the playoffs, winning the division with a 12-4 record, but losing in the division round to the Rams and Flipper Anderson, who may still be running somewhere through North Jersey. In 1990, the Giants finished 13-3, and went into the playoffs winning the NFC East. Phil Simms was hurt in Week 15 against Buffalo, but Jeff Hostetler was able to lead the Giants to their 2nd Super Bowl win over Buffalo. Parcells left the Giants after the 1990 season, citing health reasons. He left the Giants with a career record of 77-49-1, and 2 World Championships. He was also named Coach of the Year in 1986.

  • Ray Handley (1991-1992): Handley was the running backs coach under Parcells when he was named head coach. His coaching career lasts just two seasons, the Giants miss the playoffs both seasons, finishing 8-8 and 6-10. Handley was in over his head the entire 2 years, named Hostetler the starting QB over Simms for 1991, had a well-publicized argument with Channel 9’s Russ Salzberg over the QB situation, and was called out publicly by Lawrence Taylor, who said the coaches had quit on the team during a game. Handley was fired after 1992, with a record of 14-18, and his tenure is best known for an ugly shirt he wore for his first game as head coach, and some strange rumors about a Giant coverup for him that never seem to go away.

  • Dan Reeves (1993-1996): Reeves became the head coach of the Giants in 1993 after Dave Waanstadt and Tom Coughlin turned the job down. Reeves recruited many of his former players, and the Giants finished 11-5 in his first season, won the Wild Card game against Minnesota 17-10, but were annihilated in the playoffs by the ever present 49ers, 44-3. 1994 is best known for one of the darkest days in Giants history, when in June of 1994 Phil Simms was cut after arguably one of his best seasons as a pro. Dave Brown was named the starting QB, and after a 3-7 start, the Giants won 6 in a row to finish 9-7, missing the playoffs. After posting 5-11 and 6-10 records in 1995 and 1996, Reeves was fired, and thankfully took Tommy Maddox with him. His career record with the Giants was 31-33


  • Jim Fassel: (1997-2003): After numerous stints as an assistant coach, Fassel was named the head coach in 1997. One of the main reasons he was hired was for his reputation as a "QB Guru", and the Giants desperately needed his help with starting QB Dave Brown, who was floundering after 3 seasons as a starter. Dave Brown was hurt in Week 7 and replaced the rest of the year by Danny Kanell, but thanks to a strong running game and an opportunistic defense that lead the league in takeaways, the Giants won the NFC East, finishing 10-5-1, and becoming the first NFC East team to go undefeated in the division. The Giants hosted the Vikings in the Wild Card Round, but let a 9 point lead with 4 minutes to play slip away, and lost 23-22. 1998 saw more QB unrest, as Brown was cut, and Kanell was named the starter, but was ineffective, replaced by Kent Graham for the last 6 games of the season, including a stunning win at Giants Stadium over the previously undefeated Broncos. 1999 saw the Giants take another step back to 7-9, and the instability at QB continued. For the third year in a row, Fassel had to make a midseason QB change, with the newly signed Kerry Collins taking over for the last 7 games of the year. The Giants had signed the troubled Collins hoping that Fassel could help resurrect his career. The 2000 season began with Collins as the starting QB, and the Giants got off to a 7-2 start, their best since 1993, but after 2 disappointing losses left the Giants in turmoil, Jim Fassel made his famous "guarantee", and the Giants rode the wave to a winning streak that culminated with a 41-0 thrashing of the hapless Vikings in the NFC Championship game. But the pumpkin hit this Cinderella team hard in Super Bowl 35, when the Ravens crushed the Giants, 34-7. 2001 saw the Giants once again miss the playoffs, finishing 7-9 after a promising 3-1 start. In 2002, the Giants rode a 4 game winning streak and a hot offense into the playoffs and had many thinking Super Bowl. The Giants met the 49ers in the Wild Card round, and when the Giants held a 38-14 lead with 4 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, they seemed to be taking the first step. Thanks to bad penalties, Jeff Garcia, and bad special teams play, the Giants collapsed, and the 49ers came back to win 39-38. Many Giants fans were calling for Fassel’s dismissal, but Fassel would remain as coach for the 2003 season. It would turn out to be his last, as injuries, poor play, and hangover from the 49ers game took their toll. Fassel was told before the season ended he would not be retained, but when given the choice, he chose to coach the last two games of the season, and was saluted by Giants fans at his final home game. Fassel finished with a record of 58-53-1, 2 NFC East Division Titles, and he is 3rd all-time in wins by a Giants coach. He was named Coach of the Year in 1997.

  • Tom Coughlin: 2004-present: Wellington Mara felt the Giants needed a jolt after Jim Fassel was fired, someone to restore Giants pride, so Tom Coughlin was named the head coach of the Giants shortly after the 2003 season ended. Tom Coughlin has taken the Giants to the playoffs each of the last three seasons, and as we all know, after almost being fired after 2006, and with a team in turmoil, coached the Giants to a win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, 17-14. His current record with the Giants is 35-29, with a winning percentage of .547, which is good enough for 7th all time among Giants coaches.