The man who put down a Giant insurrection...
I remember John McVay's last season as head coach in 1976, then grew into my Giants fandom under the stern guidance of Ray Perkins.
Years later, the Giants won Super Bowl XXV, I turned 24-years old, Bill Parcells left, in turn leaving me despondent, and thinking the Giants would never win ever again.
Then Ray Handley happened, making Dan Reeves a necessary, and welcome sight for sore eyes. Thankfully, the 1993 season served as somewhat of a healer. Despite the departures and respective retirements of many former Big Blue champions, Reeves helped me move on with life.
Then came Jim Fassel, and what I dub the Delta House years (lots of fun, but riddled with typical frat house consequences).
What a bunch of knuckleheads - really - the whole lot of 'em. For better or worse, guys like Jesse Armstead, Amani Toomer, Jason Sehorn, Jeremy Shockey, Keith Hamilton, Kerry Collins, Michael Strahan and Tiki Barker made Giants football exciting again, but in the most undisciplined manner conceivable.
Wellington Mara, however, was getting on in years, and so the renewed success of the Giants under Jim Fassel, and winning the 2000 NFC championship became perhaps one of the happiest moments of his life.
In truth, that Giants edition was extremely likable. It took me nearly 10 years, but I was finally over the departure of Bill Parcells (kinda) because of these guys.
Make no mistake, however, Fassel was the ultimate player's coach. Allowing the inmates to run the asylum ultimately cost the Giants greater glories, that sometimes were lost in quite embarrassing fashion. Jim Fassel earned his dismissal. There's little debate there. Change was clearly needed.
Enter Tom Coughlin - chewing barbed wire and spitting napalm at reporters during his introductory presser.
The unruly Giants didn't take too well to their new commander and controller.
Foolish me sided with the players in those first two years - all but Tiki Barber that is. I did not appreciate Barber's unrepentant, open defiance and denunciation of Coughlin. That's not how I want my team's players behaving. Therefore, in Tiki's case I was totally on board with the head coach. Otherwise, my son chastised me for my initial lack of Coughlin acceptance. Then by 2010, I was the one staunchly defending him against naysayers calling for his firing.
Jerry Reese was made to deal with Michael Strahan, and I applauded Reese's dismissive treatment of Strahan at the time. But, what has transpired over the last few years falls mainly on him, not Coughlin.
Did the Giants suffer from poor coaching decisions this season? Yes, but, that would necessitate expanding this conversation to include Eli Manning's play changing at the line within this new west coast system.
Sure, there's more to this than just that. That said, somewhere between the seemingly ceaseless litany of criticisms levied upon Tom Coughlin by Tiki Barber, and the two Lombardi trophies added to the Giants collection under Tom Coughlin, lies the truth regarding his long tenure as head coach.
Do I think Tom Coughlin quit ... because it was right for the Giants?
No. The Giants resorted to replacing both their offensive and defensive coordinators first. Naturally, the head coach is next in line for modification. I think Coughlin was respectfully squeezed out, and given the opportunity to leave under his own terms with class, and his dignity in tact.
Steve Tisch quietly wanted Coughlin gone last season. If you remember, Steve Tisch publicly lashed out again midway through this season. Suffice to say, he has not been happy. Then again, we all know John Mara is the real shot caller, and even he couldn't be dissuaded from enacting reform - not this time.
Tom Coughlin restored order to Giants football. Looking back on the Jim Fassel years, I say that with confidence.
Now, the time is right for change.
My lasting images of Tom Coughlin are three: his frostbitten face during the 2007 NFC championship game in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, and the two times his float passed me by during the Super Bowl victory parades down the Canyon of Heroes.
I've had my issues with Tom Coughlin. I stated them clearly to open the season.
Tiki Barber still disparages his former coach till this day, recently saying Coughlin took the will to continue playing football from him. To that I say, the Giants wound up better for it.
That's life in the NFL, Tiki. Get over it.
Tom Coughlin was a great coach.
He'll be difficult to replace.