Tom Coughlin addressed the 2014 Giants for the last time on Monday before they headed in various directions -- and toward various futures -- for the offseason. But the coach made sure to point out that no doors are closing for good, even for those who will not be back next year.
"One thing he did say is that it's never 'goodbye,' it's 'until next time,' '' cornerback Prince Amukamara said of Coughlin's brief address.
Earlier in the day, the Giants decided not to say goodbye to Coughlin, either. He and general manager Jerry Reese were informed that the team would like them back for 2015.
Team president and CEO John Mara is expected to make the announcement public Tuesday morning.
Although it was not officially declared, word spread quickly through the locker room, where players packed their belongings and expressed relief that Coughlin will return for a 12th season with the Giants.
"We really stand behind coach Coughlin,'' Amukamara said. "We love him to death. I'm sure you would hear that from every player.''
Many indeed did voice that opinion. Eli Manning said he is "very pleased'' about the news.
"He's been my only coach and we've had great success and we've had some tough years, but we'll bounce back,'' Manning said. "I think we're on the right steps to making that progress and making that leap from being an average team to being a playoff team.''
Jon Beason, who missed most of the season with a toe injury, said the key to any franchise's success is continuity. The Giants have that with Coughlin.
"He's consistent,'' Beason said. "He's the same with everybody. He's a guy you can rely on in every situation and he's really, really in the fight with us. He's in the trenches. He believes. He's working just as hard. He's going to do everything he possibly can, and that's something everyone can learn from, I think.''
On Sunday, after the final game, Jason Pierre-Paul also said he thought Coughlin should stay . . . even while his own future with the team is hazy because of pending free agency.
"I look at coach Coughlin as a dad,'' Pierre-Paul said. "He's a good coach. The way he runs things around here is very respectful. Guys respect that. You need somebody like that on the team. Otherwise, it would be chaos. Coach Coughlin is a very good coach."
Coughlin will be 69 when the 2015 season begins. He has one year remaining on his current contract and will have to negotiate an extension if the Giants decide to hold to their policy of not having lame-duck head coaches.
Coughlin's message to the team wasn't only about saying goodbye (or not).
"A couple of the takeaways that coach Coughlin mentioned were that we should be proud of ourselves for the way we fought, especially against the circumstances we were facing with injuries and how the season was going,'' Amukamara said. "He was saying we should be proud of ourselves with how we handled adversity. And one thing that he always preaches is no one should be pointing the finger . . . just put the blame on him.''
The Giants finished the season with 22 players on injured reserve. They also slogged through a seven-game losing streak. Those two were tied closely together.
"Some teams would have just kind of fallen into the gutter after a seven-game losing streak, but we just never gave up and just fought and fought and showed the love we have for the game and the passion and desire, and that all starts with Coach,'' fullback Henry Hynoski said. "He finds a way to bring that out in us.''
And for at least another year, he will continue to do so.