If anyone had a question about how far-reaching Tom Coughlin’s influence would be as executive vice president for football operations of the Jaguars, he answered it Thursday morning. And it wasn’t even a question for him.
When a reporter asked new coach Doug Marrone about the importance of winning, Coughlin could not hold his tongue.
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“What else is there?” he interjected. “What the hell else would you be doing this for?”
It’s one of the reasons Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he hired Coughlin.
“What enthuses me the most is Tom welcomes the challenge of overseeing all facets of football operations,” Khan said. “It goes without saying that any football organization that includes Tom Coughlin is going to be one of the best in the NFL. That’s a fact. No need to Google that one.”
Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants, last coached in 2015. He worked in the league office this past season and often said he had a desire to return to the sideline. He interviewed for several head-coaching positions, including the Jaguars after they fired Gus Bradley last month, but on Thursday, Coughlin said he always saw himself more in the front office than in the trenches.
“I think this is the role I really anticipated and wanted at this point in my career,” said Coughlin, 70. “The idea of being able to express whatever the possibility may be is what I was expressing. This is the role I really wanted.”
And likely the place he wanted it. Coughlin still has a home in Jacksonville, and it is the base of operations for his Jay Fund charity. He was the first coach and general manager of the expansion Jaguars from 1995-2002, going to two AFC title games. Since his departure, the Jaguars have made the playoffs only twice.
“I have a vested interest in the historical presence and success of the Jacksonville Jaguars here in Jacksonville, Florida,” he said, “and I believe our great fans deserve a team that they can be proud of. Will this be easy? Of course not. If it was easy, anybody could do it. But I’m excited by this opportunity and this great challenge.”
Coughlin will be the top decision-maker in an organization that decided to retain general manager Dave Caldwell. Marrone was on Bradley’s staff and served as interim head coach after his firing. It was a sign of respect when Marrone referred to his new boss as “Coach Coughlin.”
Coughlin insisted that turning around the Jaguars will not be a one-man job.
“It’s not about me, not about any one individual,” he said. “It’s about team. Team above all else will define the Jaguars moving forward. Leadership today is about serving others. Humble enough to prepare, confident enough to perform . . . It’s time for us to get to work.”