Tom Coughlin nearly broke down in tears at least twice during his passionate farewell address on Tuesday, but perhaps the most emotional moment was when he addressed one individual specifically: Eli Manning.
Looking directly at the quarterback in the second row, Coughlin absolved Manning of the current state of affairs in a very paternal moment.
“He thinks he’s the reason,” Coughlin said. “He’s not the reason that I’m [leaving]. Eli, it’s not you. It’s us. We win together and we lose together.”
Manning was visibly moved, as he was on Monday when he spoke about Coughlin and said that he and the players had “failed” their head coach. Coughlin is the only head coach Manning has ever played for in his NFL career.
The question that spurred the Manning reference was about the quarterback’s future, how he’ll cope with a new head coach and potentially a new offensive system. Manning has expressed a desire to keep offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, either in his current position or as the next head coach.
“He can handle it all,” Coughlin said. “He’s done it before, he can handle it again. He’s extremely bright, he’s extremely competitive. He’s what you want a son to be made out of . . . He’s going to be right back here in about two days starting to work on next year, just like he always does. That’s never going to change. And God bless him for it.”
Did Coughlin snub Mara?
As Coughlin walked off the stage, he brushed past co-owner John Mara without making eye contact in what appeared to be a chilly snub of the man who, without actually firing Coughlin, admitted he was not “contentious” when offered his resignation a day earlier. Mara stood and appeared ready to extend his left hand, perhaps as a pat on the back or embrace, but quickly pulled it back when he realized Coughlin would not be stopping.
So was that the literal cold shoulder from Coughlin?
No way, said Giants vice president of media relations Pat Hanlon.
“[Coughlin] was oblivious and only thinking about getting the hell out of there,” he told Newsday.
Still, it was a glaring sight that likely will linger in many hearts and minds — and social media applications — for years to come.
Besides Manning, other current and former players in attendance for Coughlin’s address included Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Ryan Nassib, Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara and Coughlin’s son-in-law Chris Snee . . . Coughlin became teary-eyed twice. First when he spoke about his wife, Judy, saying “she’s my quarterback” at home. And then when he walked out of the auditorium for the final time and said what he always says after closing his news conferences there: “I gotta get to practice, I’m late.”