Maybe pompous is not the best word to describe the chief executives running the operations of the New York Football Giants these days, but then again that adjective is not wrong by any stretch of the imagination. In what has become a yearly tradition for the long-time NFL franchise, the duo of co-owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese took to the stage last week to explain why yet another Giants’ coach was sent packing in the wake of an acrimonious 6-10 season without a sniff of the NFL playoffs.
Even in the thriving metropolis that is New York City, the media has always coddled the Giants’ franchise in a way that likely irked George Steinbrenner when he was living. For the record, the New York Yankees have 27 world titles, the most of any franchise in sports, while the Giants have eight, a number that includes four NFL championships, so in actuality, the Giants get the benefit of the doubt again.
At the year-end press conference that announced his resignation, everyone waxed poetic about Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese even said, “I told coach that I love him, that he’ll always be a good friend to me. I wanted to put that out there first for the coach.”
With friends like that, who needs enemies.
It is being reported by Philly.com on Jan. 10, 2016 that the ex-coach of the G-Men will be interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, in a twist of fate that maybe more confusing for the folks in East Rutherford, N.J. than it is in the City of Brotherly Love. In the scripted world of the Giants Universe, Coughlin should have just rode into the sunset with his gold watch and long list of platitudes.
But Coughlin knows he was dealt a lousy hand, and competitors loathe unfair competition more than anything else. Even those covering the Eagles in Philadelphia know what happened to Coughlin stinks to high heaven.
“It’s interesting to see the disparity in reactions. In New York, where Coughlin is the fatherly figure who won two Super Bowls, who would have made the playoffs this year had general manager Jerry Reese done a better job of acquiring talent, there is angst. Would Coughlin really just wad up all those flowery media farewells and set them aflame by moving to a division rival, barely 100 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike?”, Philly.com reports.
Which leads us back to the scene of the crime, where the John and Jerry Show continued to try and put lipstick on this pig. According to NJ.com on Jan. 9, 2016, Mara took to the airwaves on the “Michael Kay Show” to give his side of the story; a yearly endeavor where the owners thinks that his words can over-ride what most others can see with their own two eyes. And true to form, Mara did not disappoint with once again creating his own narrative.
On Friday, the ESPN radio host asked the Giants’ owner this question: “Tom, during the press conference, made it very clear that he might not be done coaching,” Kay said. “If he gets another job with another NFL team, would that make you nauseous? I mean, how would you feel?”
“First of all, I wouldn’t characterize it as a firing,” Mara said. “Secondly, I could very well be saying that. Listen, we had 12 great years. All good things have to come to an end at some point in time. But I can never begin to repay him for everything he’s done for this franchise.”
Make no mistake, in one respect Coughlin allowed Reese and Mara off the hook by resigning his position, but that would not have occurred if the veteran coach did not see the writing on the wall. Categorize the event however you might, the simple fact is that Mara did not support his Super Bowl-winning coach for another season with the team, but the owner curiously thinks that semantics are the best route toward transparency.
As far as being pro-active, Mara did endorse Reese for at least another season, even though no general manager in the NFL expects more with less than JR. After four straight year-end press conference where Reese takes full responsibility, but in reality changes nothing, the embattled general manager even denies that there is a problem. Jordan Raanan of NJ Advance Media challenged Reese at the Giants’ post season propaganda session with the idea that his drafts were below par, and in typical Reese fashion, and perhaps directly from the Giants’ executive playbook, he denied it, according to NJ.com in an article posted on Jan. 7, 2016.
“Have you researched that? Do you know that for a fact?” Reese said. “OK, until you know that for a fact, then I don’t think you should say that. That’s just my opinion. If you know that for a fact, then you can tell me that. But give me the facts on that.”
Funny thing is that Raanan did research it, and found that the G-Men were tied for next to last with six “roster hits” in rounds three through seven from the 2007 through 2013 drafts. But please do not let the facts get in the way of your narrative, Jerry.
The Eagles could do much worse than a two-year Coughlin transition that morphs into the Ben McAdoo-era in Philadelphia. With the state of the division as it is, Coughlin could take the Eagles’ roster immediately into the playoffs next season, which has to throw a scare into Mara and Reese. This would clearly be out-of-the-box thinking, but at least Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie has shown himself to be decisive by terminating the Chip Kelly experiment when it was clear that it had gotten out of control.
The Giants cannot change what they do not acknowledge, and there is no one out there saying the Giants have a talent-laden roster. Mara acknowledged that it was time for a change, which may mean that he was tired of Coughlin begging for better players.
Unfortunately, you cannot fire the owner, and this owner will not fire the general manager.
Keep in mind that John Mara’s father, Wellington Mara, allowed almost two decades of lousy football to occur under his watch, before NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle had enough and forced the Mara family to hire George Young as general manager. Only then did things change, and through no effort of the Mara family.
Having to face his former coach twice a year with a hated division rival, could be John Mara’s equivalent of the Joe Pisarcik fumble, in which case Coughlin would be doing Giants Nation a favor because absent an earth shattering event, fans of Big Blue are in store for more excuses than results in the short-term.
Such is life on the John and Jerry Show, where the same script repeats itself in a continuous loop. Another Jersey duo, Abbott and Costello, would be proud.