Ahead of Super Bowl LVII in Arizona between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, many have been quick to dub the game the “Andy Reid Bowl,” thanks to the Chiefs’ legendary head coach’s ties to both storied franchises. What some might not realize, though, is that there is another man on Reid’s staff with previous experience in the City of Brotherly Love: defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Spagnuolo, better known to NFL fans as “Spags,” has carved out a storied career on the NFL sidelines. From 1999 to 2006, he served as a defensive assistant for the Eagles, partnering with Reid and ultimately helping to lead him to his first career Super Bowl appearance in 2005, where the duo would fall to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 24-21. In 2007, Spagnuolo would receive his big break when he was hired by Giants head coach Tom Coughlin to serve as his defensive coordinator. He would, of course, find success right away, helping to lead Big Blue to a 17-14 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in which his defense notched five sacks. Patrolling the sidelines for two legends of the game has helped prepare Spagnuolo for this moment, and it’s an experience that is never lost on him.
“How fortunate am I to have worked with two Hall of Famers?” Spagnuolo said when speaking to reporters on Wednesday. “They’ll both be in the Hall of Fame – if they’re not, something’s wrong. It can’t get any better for me. Who would’ve thought a short, white guy from Grafton, Massachusetts, would work for two Hall of Fame head coaches and go to a few Super Bowls and experience a couple of wins? I pinch myself a lot. I consider myself very, very fortunate.”
While many will remember Spagnuolo’s heroics as a coordinator, he has worked as a head coach as well. After a disappointing three-year stretch with the Rams that saw him finish just 10-38, Spags was granted another opportunity in 2017, when he was tasked to serve as the Giants’ interim head coach after Ben McAdoo was fired with just four games left in the season. After losing his first three games, Spagnuolo was able to help New York pick up a win in its season finale vs. Washington. While relatively meaningless for a squad that finished just 3-13, the win meant everything to Spagnuolo.
“One of my most enjoyable and memorable wins in this league will be that last game against Washington,” he said. “I know it didn’t mean anything to anybody, but we went out there with guys from the street. We had guys injured and guys suspended, and (Eli Manning’s) out there battling. Just to win that game. Half the guys, it’s hard to even remember who played because it was a little bit different. But I did love what they did that day. I’m just happy I got one win as the head coach of the Giants. I’ll never forget that.”
Of course, Spagnuolo will be looking for another big win come Sunday night. Tasked with stopping the electric Jalen Hurts, Spagnuolo will look for his third Super Bowl title as a coordinator. While time will tell if he ever receives another chance to patrol the sidelines as a head coach again, Spagnuolo will always treasure his time serving as Big Blue’s leader.
“Look, I’d like that chance,” he said. “We all do. We’re prideful guys, so you want a chance to prove you’re better than the way you finished. I enjoyed it. As hard as it was in New York that last month, I enjoyed representing the Giants as the head football coach.”