Q: Tom Coughlin, Giants Ring of Honor. Does it have a nice ring to?
A: It does and I'm excited about it. Build up and build up and build up and I'm kind of a history nut and I thought about this. 92 years of the franchise in existence. Tonight with three inductees and 42 people in the ring of honor. There's something to really think about and there's an awful lot of humility involved in it because you're talking about some great Giants. So it's a wonderful experience. We got the whole family here, all 12 of the grandkids are here. It's very nice.
Q: What is it like for you to be back here?
A: It's different. No question about it. I knew I was coming today though so I had a little bit of anxiety earlier in the day which was neat. To be on the field in a different capacity completely -- it was nice to be out there. The fans were great. The fans were very nice and welcomed us out on the field so it was a good experience.
Q: Other than the two Super Bowl wins, what is the one game that you would like to define your career?
A: Well, there's a lot of them. There were a lot of outstanding games just to get there. The Green Bay game and the Dallas game -- to further advance. There were a lot of games that were right up there in my memory.
Q: What do you think your chances are for Canton?
A: I don't think about that at all.
Q: What does it mean to you that the Giants reached out to you so quickly to bestow this honor upon you?
A: 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. 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.
Q: How often do you get to see the Giants?
A: I see parts of it. I don't sit down and look at any one. I'm in the command center when all the games are on. In games like the Eagles game, I'm looking a little bit more at that one than I would normally perhaps. But I'm rooting for the guys and I'm rooting for them to win. The coaches are my coaches. Every one of the guys I brought here. Many of the players are the players I had the privilege of coaching. I root for the Giants.
Q: How proud are you to bring those two Lombardi trophies here as Head Coach?
A: 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. 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.
Q: When you look back do you find it remarkable about how fast it goes?
A: You're in the midst of something. You have a collective group of people that you really enjoy working with. You have an organization -- I had such tremendous support within the building. All the departments in the Giants organization were very supportive. Most of them became my friends. It was a tremendous work environment and all of the sudden it's gone. Justin Tuck
Q: What does this mean to you?
A: It's rare. I think people that know me, know that I don't get really excited about any individual awards. I won't look at this as an individual award. For me, every time I look up in those rafters from here on out, I'll think about why am I up there. It's very easy for me to see why I'm up there because I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people.
From the coaching staff, evidently coach Coughlin going in tonight, to the management staff, evidently with Ernie going in tonight, to all the players I coached with. That's the only reason that I'm up there. I've been very lucky and blessed to be a part of an organization from top to bottom that does things the right way.
Q: How much more special is it to be going in with Tom and Ernie?
A: If you take out the players, I couldn't script it any better. My coach and my GM. The guys that literally brought me to New York. The two guys I talked to first back in 2005 when they decided to draft me. That's special, man. I think everyone knows just how special it is to have one from the tiers that makes this a good football team. From management and coaching to a player. Tonight's special. I'm very blessed to be going in with those two. I consider myself very lucky to be as well.
Q: How do you compare this to winning a Super Bowl? Maybe in a sense that when your teammates look up there they'll think that they're a part of it as well.
A: That's what I would want them to take from this. Super Bowls, they're special in their own ways but for different reasons. The Super Bowl is just a pinnacle of what everyone sees as the team accomplishment. I don't think everyone looks at stuff like this as a team award. I do, but I don't think everyone does. Both of them are special in their own right.
Q: How did you play your best in the Super Bowl? How did you really rise to the occasion?
A: I don't know. I think a lot of people have opinions about it. I think for me, the best one that I've heard is that I really didn't approach it any different than any other game. I've seen guys really get all excited and out of who they really are in big games. For me, I was always calm and just approached it like it was any other day. A lot of that was me fooling myself because the Super Bowl really isn't just any other day. I was able to approach it like that.
That's why I think in those moments I was calm. I was just like the kid that practiced the Michael Jordan winning shot in his backyard. Same thing. At the end of the day, it's football. At the end of the day, I played a lot of football. If you keep it in that perspective, you just go out there and do what you've always done. That's what I tried to do.
Q: What advice would you give the Giants tonight heading into a big game?
A: Any situation like this when you have a big game, obviously, I'm on the outside looking in, which is crazy, but it never changes. The game never changes. The team that is the more physical team, the team that protects the football and the team that plays together normally wins games like this. It's starting to get cold and starting to become that Giants time of the year where these games mean so much. The formula has always been, especially for the Giants, find a way to run the football. Find a way to get after the quarterback.
Don't turn the football over. You find yourself in those fourth quarter games. Every time we were in a fourth quarter game, we felt confident because we had number 10 back there. He always seemed to find a way to get us that extra touchdown or that last second field goal. Whatever it may be. What I've seen from this team is that they've continued to grow. Their confidence level is high. They're winning games in the fourth quarter this year. Just find a way to get into the fourth quarter and I feel very confident.
Q: Do you miss playing?
A: No. I know people don't want to hear me say that, but I stay busy. For me, when I decided to call it quits, I knew it was time for me. I don't have any regrets. I think anyone that says that I miss it is a regret factor. I definitely miss the comradery in the locker room and the guys. Waking up, taking 10 steps, and my back still isn't straight in the morning, I don't miss that.
Again, I'm still very involved in the game. I love talking to the young guys and figuring out ways I could help. That's kind of how I equate not being able to go hit a quarterback nowadays. I'm enjoying my family, enjoying school, enjoy watching my kids play soccer and cooking breakfast in the morning. I don't know how long that will last but right now, it suffices.
Q: To get this honor with this franchise, what does that mean?
A: I don't know if you could put it into words. You just think about all the guys. I'll think about all the guys that are up there. I'll literally tell myself that I don't deserve to be up there with those guys. I don't look at myself in that light. It's always been that way with me.
I'm really cognizant of how special it is to play a game like this. A game where you're relying on ten other guys every given moment. If one guy doesn't do his job, the other ten don't look so hot. Like I always tell guys, any success that I have had is a direct correlation to the other ten guys on the field. The other eleven on the other side and the eleven on special teams. The twenty or so coaches and so on and so forth. It's special but it's special because of the group not because of Justin Tuck.
Q: What do you think about the Giants' pass rush?
A: I think they need to learn how to play with each other. That's evident. It took me, Stray, and Osi a couple of turns to figure out where our strengths were playing with each other. We knew our strengths individually, but when you throw that much talent on the field at the same time, you have to figure out how to add those together and not be subtractions.
A lot of times, you have two bookends, that can be a subtraction not an addition. I talked to JPP last night. It's just learning how to play with each other. Me and Osi had signs and we didn't have to say a word. We would look at each other and depending on what part of my jersey I touched, he knew what I was going to do. That chemistry stuff goes a long way. Hopefully as they continue to play with each other, that whole d-line, the talent is to duplicate what we did. Spags loves it and I know he wants to unleash that. Hopefully it comes to fruition tonight.
Q: Ernie what does the honor mean to you?
A: Well it means so many things, but to me it's the greatest organization in sports. To be honored by them, in a stadium like this, with the people that I'm going in with, in addition to the names that are up there. I said this before those names are all heroic figures, but one of the things that means so much to me is to be up there with George Young because if it would not have been for George Young, I wouldn't have been here.
Q: The specialness of this organization, Ernie, when you think about it being one of the core organizations, one of the pillars of the NFL, what does it mean to be able to work for this group?
A: I always told the younger guys that I left there, Kevin Abrams, Jerry Reese, and even some of the younger ones that had not achieved the level that those two had, that it's better to be old and come here, because if you're young and you ever leave, it isn't going to be the same anywhere else. There are good organizations, but there is only one New York Giant organization.
I'm glad I finished my career here rather than started it because it's tough to duplicate it. Players find that out too. I think if you talk to players after they leave here they feel the same way. A lot of them have come to me, that left early during my time here for a better contract, that regretted it because this is a special place.
Q: The man who acquired Eli Manning, do you like that legacy?
A: I'll take it, yes. He called me the other day and I said, I was associated with a lot of players, but if I had to be associated with one in particular, I'm fine being associated with him.
Q: What did he say?
A: Well you know he called me after each Super Bowl, so did his father, and he called me on this, and so did his Dad. They're great people and they thanked me for bringing him here.