Tom Coughlin doesn’t always enjoy the limelight, but Tuesday night the oft-solemn head coach of the New York Giants took center stage.
In an appearance on YES Network’s “CenterStage,” host Michael Kay interviewed Coughlin about a number of different aspects of Coughlin’s 43-year coaching career.
Asked what the best advice his father ever gave him, Coughlin channeled back to his sophomore year at Waterloo High School in upstate New York:
“We got beat one afternoon at home, against Clyde-Savannah (N.Y.). After the game, I came home … As I started to open the door, my dad was standing in the doorway. He looked at me and he said, ‘If that’s the best effort you’re going to give, you probably ought to find something else to do with your time.’
“It really hit me hard because, mothers and fathers, (when) they tell you they’re watching the game, they’re watching you. This is the way my dad perceived that particular effort that day (and) he was right.”
Coughlin, a Syracuse alum who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Orange in 1969 then returned to the university in 1974 as a quarterbacks coach and eventually offensive coordinator, then discussed what it was like to return to his alma mater.
“Frank invited me to come down for an interview. It was going to be an evening interview, I had it all wired. I worked all day, and I knew exactly when I was going to get home. I was going to shower, shave and dress: (wear a) suit, put a coat and tie on, leave at an exact time, walk in, 10, 15 minutes early for my interview, it would be perfect. Best laid plans of mice and men. We’ve got two little ones at that time, Judy and I. I came home, and I structured this just as I said. Got everything to go, got ready to leave, and kissed my wife and the kids’ goodbye, started out the door, no car keys. Where are my car keys? Now I start to sweat, I’m sweating right through my jacket and my shirt. Judy and I tear the house up looking for these car keys. I can’t find them.”
Of course Coughlin would locate his keys and eventually got the job coaching under Frank Maloney.
Fast forward about three decades, Coughlin found himself coaching in one the most significant regular-season games in NFL history.
It was Week 17 in 2007 when the New York Giants were to set to play the then-undefeated New England Patriots. A game away from regular-season perfection, and Coughlin opted to play all of his starters.
The next day, Coughlin received a phone call from none other than former Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame coach John Madden.