Review by Budd Bailey
Former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has written a book about the Giants’ surprising and memorable win in the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots in 2007 (which, to be clear, capped the 2006 NFL season).
Veteran fans of the team might read that bit of news and mutter to themselves … “Again?”
Coughlin has gone through this territory before. Immediately following that championship, Coughlin wrote “A Team To Believe In.” It appeared in the bookstores in September, 2007, and at 224 pages it checks in as a quick recap of the season. Now one of the great rules of publishing in sports books is that if a team from the New York City area wins a title, books will quickly follow. The New York market is huge, of course, and the parts of the publishing industry have been known to be carried away about such things. (Was there anyone on the New York Knicks roster in 1970s who didn’t write a book?)
Coughlin won another championship after that, and has since retired. Apparently he has decided to go back to the well on that first title, as he’s written “A Giant Win.”
The sequel, if that’s the right phrase, covers the territory you’d expect. The skeleton of the book essentially covers the play-by-play of that Super Bowl, hitting most of the big plays in detail. There’s a lot going on in one single snap at the line of scrimmage in a football game. Coughlin takes his time in reviewing how the slightest action often can make the difference between an incomplete pass than a long gainer. It’s a thinner margin than most civilians can imagine. The terminology is occasionally a problem, especially for those who couldn’t describe the various routes by a wide receiver without hints.
That format allows Coughlin to go off on some tangents, and one thing remains clear. The coach is still very fond and thankful for the players that helped him win a championship. The bond between players and coach on such teams is stronger than most people realize. John Muckler had coached the Edmonton Oilers to a Stanley Cup in 1990, and for years he obviously stayed in touch with players over the years – even trying to acquire them when he ran the Buffalo Sabres. You really do walk together forever when you win a title.
Maybe Coughlin is a little over-the-top when describing some of his players, but it’s quite understandable under the circumstances. And it is interesting to read about some of the interactions between player and coach. For example, defensive end Michael Strahan one time had to calm down Coughlin, explaining that the players were in good shape and in control of the situation.
The coach also uses the opportunity to discuss his own life, starting in upstate New York. It’s not easy to put Waterloo, New York, on the map. Its major claim to fame is that it was the first place in America to celebrate Memorial Day right after the Civil War ended. Now, naturally, Coughlin’s name is on the welcome signs in the town and on the high school football stadium. He went to Syracuse University and then moved into coaching.
Coughlin also takes time throughout the book to plug “The Jay Fund.” That non-profit group was started when one of his players at Boston College, died of leukemia. The idea is to help those families who are affected by childhood cancer; it has raised $13 million for that cause. Family members have embraced it, and ex-players still turn up for events. Good for Tom; good for the others too.
The last chapter is a sad one. Tom’s wife, Judy, has been sick in recent years and needs constant care. Coughlin, with his help, tries to make her comfortable. It’s not the retirement they envisioned, but Tom’s devotion under difficult circumstances is noted and appreciated.
“A Giant Win” goes by very quickly. After reading it, it’s easy to agree with Coughlin on a major point. The win by New York over a previously undefeated team was not a fluke. The better team won. For the Giants fans who want to relive one of the most memorable Super Bowls of all time, this ought to work.