Two-time New York Giants Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin joined the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast on Tuesday to discuss his new book, ‘A Giant Win.’ The book delves into Coughlin’s detailed memories of the Super Bowl XLII victory over the New England Patriots.
We also talked about the Giants, whether he is done in football, people who have had an influence on his life, and much more.
[My thanks to Coach Coughlin, who is grieving the loss of his wife, Judy, and attended a graveside service for her in their hometown of Waterloo, N.Y. on Monday, for taking the time.]
Let’s get to the interview, in Q&A format.
Ed: Why now for this book?
Coach Coughlin: Why now? Because first of all, I think it’s one of the greatest games in the history of the Super Bowl, certainly the greatest upset in the history of the Super Bowl. And there’s many reasons for it, this book is much more in depth and detailed from the personal side than I’ve done before. This is my third book. But this book really goes into the nitty gritty of one game, Super Bowl 42. And the reason, one of the reasons, our country has come through a very difficult time. COVID. Now we’re in inflation, depression, whatever you want to call it, it’s not a very flattering time.
At one time in our lives, every one of us has been on our back, I don’t care how much what your income is, or whatever. It’s the same for all of us. We’ve all had to fight our way back from something. This is one great example of that, because this is a head coach, a quarterback and a team that nobody gave a chance for anything. And to start the year off 0-2 even made it worse. Because when we went to Washington [Week 3], who knows what would have happened if we lost that game. They might have fired me right there. But the whole point is, what do you do about it when you’re down? And for me, the key question was always, if you tell me, I can’t do something, that’s the greatest motivator in the world.
Ed: The details you remember are amazing.
Coach Coughlin: The game made a huge impression on me, obviously, and it’s something that I will always carry with me. But what I did is I went back and looked at segments of the game. And I recalled how they came about, why the call was made, what particularly happened, what were we trying to accomplish, what could have affected us in a negative way, even though we made that particular call. That’s what I think the fans are going to really enjoy is understanding why things were called, how they were called, what the circumstances were, what we were facing. We were facing the greatest offensive machine in the history of professional football.
Ed: And he’s (Tom Brady) still mad at you.
Coach Coughlin: That’s OK. I’m mad at him.
Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, and you had Eli against Brady, and you had all these subplots that had to be accomplished. Here’s a defense that was fourth in the league — the Patriot defense that didn’t get any recognition because of their offensive team and [Randy] Moss and all these great players and so on and so forth. And as I said, Tom Brady, under any circumstances at any time, this guy goes the length of the field in 20 seconds to win a game. So those things are all a part of the subscript.
Ed: Is this the favorite group of players or team that you have ever coached?
Coach Coughlin: Every team has a special place in a coach’s memory point for one reason or another. This certainly is a team that I’m extremely proud of and I was so glad to be a part of. So from that standpoint, it was just what we went through together. You always tell your team that in circumstances like that you’re going to be bound at the hip for all time. And we are, and I’m very proud of that.
Ed: What are your thoughts on how much more of his personality Eli Manning has shown to the public since he retired?
Coach Coughlin: I’m not surprised at all, I’ve seen him in the locker room with his teammates and how he’s responded to sarcasm and what have you in the games that the guys play in the locker room, I’ve seen that side of him. So for me to see him in an entertainment capacity is really, really not a shocker to me at all.
I did something with him [for] ‘Eli’s Places’ at the Lubin House in New York with Syracuse University, and you see Eli, and then you see Eli as he steps up to the plate in his present position. And it’s fun to see him in both capacities. Because in the very beginning of that session, he’s having a cup of coffee and a doughnut in the backroom. And he’s Eli. And the next minute, he’s got the script and he’s playing it out and we’re having fun with each other watching tape, and we’re kidding each other back and forth. It was a very enjoyable experience. And I’ve seen some of the things that he and Peyton do. And they’re very good. They’re very good. They’re very good together, and they’re very good as individuals.
Ed: Are you done with football? If you were to get back in, what capacity appeals to you?
Coach Coughlin: You asked me, that’s 10 different questions. And I don’t know that I have the answer. Am I always going to be involved in football? Yes. But it may not be in the capacity that I’ve been in in the past. If I could be I’d be the head coach because why do it without having control of what you need to have control of? I don’t see that coming. But could I help a team? Sure, I can help a team in whatever capacity that could be worked out. But I’m not out there looking for that.
Ed: Why has Brian Daboll been so successful with this current Giants team?
Coach Coughlin: I think Brian is a good football coach, and he’s paid the price. He’s been with Bill Belichick. He’s had tremendous experiences there. He’s had a great experience in Buffalo with Josh Allen. He’s more than prepared for his job. And you can see when he came in, I can see the look on his face, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Brian and to visit with him. He was nice enough to host us over at the Giant facility last spring as we brought in some Jay Fund people. I just think they’ve done an outstanding job. And I hope that they can get back on track here after a couple of difficult losses.
Ed: We have to talk about your work with the Jay Fund. You’ve won two Super Bowls and you coached for a long time. But a lot of your former players talk more about your impact on them as a person than as a football coach. And the work you do with the Jay Fund. Is it fair to say that maybe the best work of your life has been helping people live better lives more than preparing them to win football games?
Coach Coughlin: I hope so. Because as a teacher, which is basically what I am, I was not going to only be concerned about the X’s and O’s part of it. A lot of people think that at the pro level ... that’s never been me. I always try as best I can to help my guys understand life’s lessons, things that are going to help them beyond the football field and to drive those things home and to have them as a part of everything that we say and everything that we do and how they live their lives and their responsibilities, their accountability, those type of things. So it’s always been a part of the way I’ve coached — life’s lessons, the lessons that can be learned on the football field that also carry over into life.
And so as a teacher, I can only say, I hope so. I hope so, that’s what I want. And the idea of the Jay Fund is to be able to take what humble, humble success that I have had, that we have had, and project it for the benefit of others, those who are not able, because of circumstances, to help themselves the way that I can perhaps help them.
Ed: In closing, can you give me three people, professionally or personally, that have really had a profound impact on your own life?
Coach Coughlin: That’s a tough question because there’s been a lot of people. I mean, I like to think that I’m a sponge and I’ve learned from everybody that I’ve had the opportunity to be around. But I will say this, as a high school kid, you’re not very worldly. You’re concerned with your league and what’s going on in your community and how you’re going to be impactful in the conference that you represent. My high school coaches were outstanding — Bill Carey, Mike Ornato, my basketball and football coaches. They made a tremendous impact on me. And then going forward all the people that I’ve had the ability to be around and the opportunity to be around. But I would say this, I’ve learned a lot from the readings of John Wooden — that has helped me a lot.
But you cannot talk about being projected into a higher level of sophistication in your profession without talking about my experience as an assistant coach with Bill Parcells and the New York Giants. That made a huge impact on me, because my experience in pro football at that time had not been as a winner, and I needed to win. So I got with Coach Parcells and I got with an organization that had great continuity. And I learned from that.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: ‘A Giant Win’ is currently available for purchase. Visit https://tcjayfund.org/ to find out more about how to help the Jay Fund.
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