After not even a full season away from the organization, Tom Coughlin was inducted into the Ring of Honor by the New York Giants on Monday night, mere months removed from leaving an organization that coursed through his veins.
Coughlin oversaw one of the most successful tenures in franchise history, a span that included two Super Bowl rings. He left last year having failed to make the playoffs since 2011, a fact due largely to the sheer lack of talent on his recent teams than any failures on his part as head coach. He left behind a strong legacy and was very much loved by the team’s fanbase, many of whom questioned his firing given the quality of the teams he coached over his last three seasons in New York.
He was greeted with a long, moving standing ovation from the Giants faithful during a halftime ceremony. The Giants led the Cincinnati Bengals 14-10 at the time.
Usually a Ring of Honor acknowledgment comes several years after a player or coach has retired but Coughlin, who openly has said he still wants to coach, is less than a year removed from his final season with ‘Big Blue.’
“It meant a great deal to me. To be honest, at first I didn’t really appreciate it. But as we got into the season and as it got closer and we got to reflect on it -- I thought about the fantastic experiences I had here. I came in ‘88 and we won the Super Bowl in ‘90-’91. I had the chance to be in an organization with Wellington Mara, with George Young, with Bill Parcells -- with a great staff. [Bill] Belichick was here,” Coughlin said.
“It was a great staff of coaches and we won and we were together and we were tight. I learned a lot about the concept of winning and continuity. And then to come back in ‘04 as a Head Coach and to have the Mara and Tisch family present me with the opportunity to be the 16th Head Coach of the New York Giants, it meant an awful lot to me. It hit some chords and then we had to get out there running real quick because the ‘03 season wasn’t very good. We had to get started in that regard. I feel an awful lot of emotion. I relate the history of this organization -- what the Giants have always stood for and I’m grateful.”
As head coach of the Giants, Coughlin amassed a 102-90 regular season record and was 8-3 in his five trips to the playoffs. His teams won the NFC East three times in 12 seasons in New York.
He does regret that he didn’t have one more championship ring for his time with the Giants.
“I wish it were three. I thought in ‘08 we should’ve won it. But it wasn’t meant to be that way. I’m very proud of those teams,” Coughlin said.
“ The people involved in those teams. The coaches and the assistant coaches that I was privileged to work with. The players that we were privileged to work with and coach. And the way we went about business, not only in those ‘07 and ’08 years, but in ‘11 and ‘12 as well. Because each one of those had a different situation, a different circumstance. We went from being road warriors to having to win the last two in ‘11 to get in and we did. Nobody gave us much of a chance but nobody gave us a chance in ‘08 either and yet we came together. The whole concept of ‘all in’ -- the players talked about being ‘all in.’ That struck me as well because we were all in. The practices were like I’ve never seen them. That gave me confidence no matter who the opponent was.”