After Tom Coughlin's press conference, which turned into an inspiring farewell speech, John Mara had the unenviable task of following the coach at the podium. He talked about the New York Giants' impending search for Coughlin's successor, but mostly he took the opportunity to thank the man and reminisce about his twelve years with the Giants.
John Mara was effusive in his praise of the Giants -- now -- former coach. He opened his remarks by sharing a story of the first time Tom Coughlin interviewed with him and former general manager Ernie Accorsi.
Mara said "Twelve years ago, Ernie Accorsi and I first sat down with Tom at the Newark Marriott hotel, I remember that so clearly because he started off on some before we even asked him a question, this rambling monologue about what was wrong with the team, the league, the world. And I looked at Ernie, he looked at me, and I just thought to myself 'This is just not going to work. This guy's is not what we're looking for'. Fortunately, things improved quite a bit during the rest of that session, and the second interview. You know, now I stand here 12 years later, and how could you have reasonable expected it to go any better?"
As he finished the story, Mara was visibly choked up, saying that "He has been everything you could ask for in a head coach, and we'll always appreciate him for that. He's a Hall of Fame coach, a Hall of Fame person, and he leaves big shoes to fill.
It was also of note that Mara asked Coughlin if he would consider staying on in some capacity, to think about ways in which he could still help the Giants going forward. Mara said, "He knows the team as well as anybody, our team as well as anybody..." and that they don't want his experience, knowledge, and perspective to just walk out the door. Mara added that Coughlin agreed to consider the proposal.
Mara was clearly uncomfortable with Coughlin resigning, but also clearly grateful for everything that he brought to the organization. Tom Coughlin was the last coach hired by Wellington Mara, John's father, and that losing the last link to "The Duke" has to weigh on his mind. It's also impossible to discount the tremendous personal respect that Mara has for Coughlin.
Throughout the press conference, Mara thanked Coughlin for his perseverance, professionalism, energy, and all the success brought to the Giants. Mara maintained that while it is time for a coaching change, he couldn't lay blame for the Giant's record over the last three years wholly at Coughlin's feet.
And he is right to do so; Coughlin, Jerry Reese, the players themselves, and others, all share blame for the record the Giants can't hide from.
With his farewell to Coughlin -- as a coach, even if he does return to the organization in some capacity -- complete, Mara now has to turn his attention to bringing in the next head coach and making sure it's the "Right Guy" to lead the Giants back to level they should be.