EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch discuss everything concerning the franchise. But on one very important subject, they needed no conversation: both were in complete agreement that Tom Coughlin should return for his eighth season as the Giants head coach in 2011.
Mara ended what he considered "nonsense" – the speculation about Coughlin's job status – when he told reporters in the locker room following the Giants' season-ending victory in Washington that the coach would again lead the team. Today, Tisch added his unequivocal support in a crowded news conference in the team's locker room in the Timex Performance Center.
"I'm a big supporter of Tom," said Tisch, who added he "never" considered changing coaches. "I don't want to speak for John Mara, but I think John has spoken for himself, and I think he's indicated to you guys that he's a supporter of Coach Coughlin. I believe Jerry (Reese) has indicated that to you also. A number of players have made their supportive opinions very public, to you specifically. I never felt during this season that changes had to be contemplated and after last night's win in Washington, I still don't think any change needs to be contemplated, discussed, or brought up in the next few weeks or months."
Mara spoke about the same topic to the same group of reporters moments after Tisch finished.
"There wasn't a doubt in my mind (about bringing Coughlin back), and there wasn't a doubt in Steve's mind or in Jerry Reese's mind," Mara said.
Although the Giants finished the season with a 10-6 record, they didn't win the NFC East after losing twice to Philadelphia and they didn't earn the NFC's final wild card berth because of a defeat last week in Green Bay. The Packers came from behind to beat the Chicago Bears as the Giants were finishing their 17-14 victory over the Redskins, a combination that gave the Giants a double-digit victory season but no playoff game to prepare for.
But a second straight season outside of the playoffs did not diminish Tisch's praise for the team or Coughlin.
"We came out of this season 10-6, a good team, in many ways a better team than we've been the last few seasons," Tisch said. "I'm proud of the players, proud of the job that Tom Coughlin and his coaches have done. I don't want to be watching the playoffs at home, but that's the way it's gone down this year. We're a great organization, and I think we're really a team that embraces the word 'team' and the experience of team.
"I think Coach Coughlin has put a very diverse group of young, very talented athletes together. We're 10-6 and there are teams in the playoffs with losing records. I can't keep reading the newspapers and watching sports analysis on television. I hate using this expression, but 'it is what it is.' Personally, I'm very, very proud of the New York Giants: the players, the coaches, the staff. I'm looking forward to 2011. We're going to have some players that couldn't play this year because of injuries - very important players who are going to be coming back, hopefully, for the 2011 season."
Coughlin has one year remaining on his contract, but neither Tisch nor Mara wanted to talk in detail about a potential extension.
"I'm very aware of the timing on Tom's contract, as is John and Jerry," Tisch said. "I'm not sure 12 hours after coming back from Washington with the sort of mixed feelings we have that it is going to be an issue discussed today. I don't think John, Jerry, and I have ever let any of these issues linger on, and in fairness to Tom and the team, this is an issue that will be addressed very, very soon.
"We're going to start these conversations soon. We relieved a lot of Tom's anxiety the other day. I think Tom is an A-rated NFL football coach. He's coached many great seasons and got us to the Super Bowl. I'd like to feel that we can be back in Indianapolis next February (for Super Bowl XLVI). It's business, and John, I, and Jerry are going to have those conversations. I think the three of us going into those meetings having no set agenda. On matters like this, we usually really see things the same way, which is great and kind of unique about a two-team ownership relationship. I'm not stressed about the conversations regarding Tom. He is a great, great guy and a tremendous leader. The players play for him and respect him. You can't let a guy like that get too far away."
"I haven't really given that a lot of thought yet, and I don't even know what (Tom's) feeling is on it yet," Mara said. "Certainly I will talk with Steve about it, and with Jerry. So I'm not sure where we're going on that."
Tisch and Mara are both deeply disappointed that the Giants did not advance to the playoffs, but they've been in the game long enough to know you have to take the sorrow with the glory.
"I'd like to be going somewhere next weekend, but it didn't turn out that way," Tisch said. "We did what we had to do yesterday. There were some disappointing games during the season, but you can't look back on those and blame any one situation, any one play. You can't look back and say that this game should have gone that way because it didn't. I'm really proud of the season we did have. Ten and six is a damn good record in the NFL, and if you look at some of the other teams' records that are in the playoffs or at least the first week of the playoffs, we did better than them. I can stand here and sort of intellectually and even emotionally try to explain and answer a question like that. I'm addressing all of you by saying that this is a football team and a football organization that on January 3rd I'm very proud of."
He's not alone in the owners' box.
"Whenever you don't make the playoffs, you finish (frustrated and disappointed)," Mara said. "The only time you're not frustrated and disappointed is when you're standing on the platform at midfield after the Super Bowl. Yeah, we're disappointed.
"Obviously, I have a lot of pride with this franchise and I think our players played hard this year. I'm certainly disappointed about the results in some of the games, in the Philadelphia game in particular. They played hard, like we expect them to play. Whenever you don't achieve your ultimate goal, there is going to be disappointment."
But with the owners having kept Coughlin at the helm, they're already looking forward to next season.