NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:
Tom Coughlin and Bill Parcells are Mirror Images of
BIG Success and BLUE Setbacks.
Two Super Bowl victories in five years cemented Bill Parcells' (as well as Bill Belichick's) legend in the Land of Giants forever. The coach who came from 3-12-1 in his first season, won the Mara Family their first two Lombardi Trophies. But make no mistake, there were a bunch of bad moments during the Parcells Era too.
Ever since the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, I've often reminded my son we were inside a five year window to make another Super Bowl appearance. And quite similarly to the way an era evolved a quarter-century ago for me, here we go again. It's as if history is making it's way around again and giving a younger generation a glimpse into what their parents went through twenty-five, and twenty one years ago. Including this season, the last five years have in a sense been a modern day parallel of Bill Parcells' Giants march to greatness.
This Super Bowl, aside from the "Brady's Revenge" factor, has very nearly come about the way Carl Banks once described his team's ascent in 1990;
"We're back!" "They said we couldn't do it." "They put a fork in us and said we were done."
Phil Simms; Rodney Hampton; - Done! - Lost for the season. Even Carl Banks had that broken hand. But it goes without saying today's Giants have dealt with injuries just the same. Now they're back in the Super Bowl after so many in the Media wrote them off after the Saints blow-out; then again at 7-7; and at every chance they had since. Just as The Matriarch; Ann Mara; who so "politely" pointed that out to Terry Bradshaw. Parcells used to love that too - when the world wasn't just against you; they belittled you. The Media tried it back then with Parcells because the Giants were never pretty. They were smash-mouth. That's why he was so nasty and belittling back to them; - because what he did, worked. It just wasn't as flashy as San Francisco's west coast bling. Phil Simms received the brunt of that crap from day one all the way into and after a 1990 Monday Night 7-3 loss against San Francisco. We know how that season ended though.
Twenty one years after Super Bowl XXV, my son is gunning for his second Super Bowl inside five years like I did at his age. His team; our team; is Coached by one of Parcells' grasshoppers; Tom Coughlin. I never wavered once on Parcells. If I never told you before (I have..), I'll remind you all now. I did with Coughlin. After the 2006 season, I wanted him fired. All I'll say right now about that is Jerry Reese and John Mara made me realize my thinking was highly flawed. But that subject deserves a different post. The point I want to make is that my son was always a staunch supporter of Coughlin's. He told me flat out I was wrong then, and still reminds me about it from time to time. Good for him. As Coughlin has made an impression upon him, then so too in my early twenties, if Parcells would have asked me to eat dirt, I'd have shown up with spoon in hand and a salt shaker for taste.
Like Tom Coughlin, Bill Parcells' Giants were not without their troubles; and vice-versa. Four years after their initial Super Bowl victories, Tom Coughlin finds himself in position to win his second Lombardi Trophy, just like Bill Parcells was in 1990-01. It's uncanny how the two eras match up. Are there differences? Sure..., many. That team of the late 80's was all about smash-mouth and ball control offense. On defense, they rode the backs of great linebackers. Today's Giants are passing juggernauts with a ferocious defensive line. They're kind of the same, but different, or, different but the same. They're the Giants. In both eras, drafting has made the difference.
There were no playoffs for Bill Parcells in 1983. There were no playoffs for Tom Coughlin in 2004. In 1984, the Giants faced the 49ers in the playoffs and got blown out. Coach Coughlin's 2005 NFC East champs got blown out by the Carolina Panthers as Tiki Barber infamously accused his Coach of getting Out-Coached by another former Giants coach; John Fox. In 1985, the Giants were embarrassed during a frigid playoff game in Chicago partly due to a wind-blown missed punt attempt. In 2006, the Giants embarrassed themselves with an 8-8 record and just barely made the playoffs where they lost to the Eagles in the first round.
After two years of making the playoffs and falling short, both coaches led their teams to respective Super Bowls in their fourth year on the job. But the Giants bid to repeat in 2008 was shot in the leg just as the Player Strike of 1987 effectively killed the Giants' bid to repeat back then. Both seasons were horrible ways to follow-up their respective Super Bowl seasons.
As far as that 2008 season and how it ended, ask yourself which you'd rather happen - losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs after a dominant 12-4 season, OR, after having a dominant 12-4 regular season in 1989, watching the Rams' Flipper Anderson run right through the end zone and into the old Giants Stadium tunnels after scoring the winning touchdown in overtime of the opening round playoff game? In either case; in both eras; in both seasons; the Giants went home prematurely. And just to let you know, that Rams game still haunts me today more than losing Super Bowl XXXV; or losing to the Niners in 2003; or losing to the Vikings in 1997 ever did.
There were no playoffs for Bill Parcells in 1987 and 1988. Nor were there any playoffs for Tom Coughlin in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, the Giants missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. That's when Coach Coughlin famously told his detractors to kiss his ass; and rightfully so as far as I'm concerned. In 1988, the Giants went 10-6 as well, and missed the playoffs because they lost the last game of the season to the Jets.
It seems what's old is new again. And with any luck, this Sunday can be just as glorious for a new generation and my son in particular, just as it was for this forty-something fan who grew up in the wonderful Big Blue Land of Giants an era ago and thankfully never grew-up.