It was a moment of celebration for Brian Daboll, the culmination of a dream that took a quarter-century to realize. The smile rarely left his face as he discussed his vision of what was ahead for the Giants in his first opportunity as an NFL head coach. And when it was time to be serious in communicating his vision for success, his eyes were laser focused.
“It's absolutely important that we have shared alignment, shared vision, shared core principles and values of the type of people we want to bring in,” he told reporters assembled at the Giants’ indoor practice facility on Jan. 31. “Let's not forget, this is a people business too. There's X's and O's, but this is a people business. It's about leading, it's about cultivating and it's about inspiring.”
After answering all inquiries, Daboll left the podium and turned to the Giants’ longtime public relations director, Pat Hanlon.
“The second we got off that podium at his introductory press conference, he said, ‘I gotta lose some weight,’ ” Hanlon recalled. “And he did.”
Fast-forward to Friday’s first day of the team’s three-day rookie minicamp. Daboll sports a tan and is noticeably thinner as he walks among the players, delivering coaching tips and offering praise for the rookies going through the first paces of what they hope will be successful professional careers.
Daboll is deservedly proud of how far he has gotten in his career, having served coaching apprenticeships in college and the pros beginning in 1997 before earning the Giants’ job and now working alongside newly named general manager Joe Schoen. And as he has adjusted to his new role of head coach for the first time, he is making certain he prepares as best he can for the challenging task ahead.
“I lost about 40 pounds since I got this job,” Daboll said. “Look, this is a grind. Every year is a grind . . . To be honest with you, I had to lose some weight. I still have to lose weight.”
He has not been alone in that quest.
“We had some weight loss deal [within the organization], so I was a competitor,” he said. “A couple of coaches and scouts [are also involved].”
Daboll, 47, and his wife, Beth, are parents to six children, so it’s important to him that he takes care of himself, and not simply for the job as football coach. He has another team counting on him, too.
“I guess I’m getting older, and I just wanted to take the time to work out a little more, eat a little better, but I’ve still got a ways to go,” he said. “I’m trying.”
And he knows the challenge isn’t just losing weight; it’s keeping it off.
“Haven’t lost this much weight since Cleveland,” he said of his two-year stint as the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2009-10. “I lost 100 pounds in Cleveland in an offseason, and then I gained it back within a year.”
How does he avoid a recurrence?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have the answer to that yet. I can’t promise you it ain’t gonna go up.”
Daboll is doing what he can now to help himself moving forward. He is in a business that involves long hours, game-day pressure, media criticism and myriad other challenges that come with coaching at the highest level of his sport. He said it from Day 1.
“There's pressure with every job in this business,” Daboll said at his introductory news conference. “Obviously, we're here in New York, we understand the market, but the pressure is gonna be put on ourselves, too. We're gonna do everything we can do, like I talked about before, build an organization which we feel is the right way, unite the building, inspire some people, listen, learn and develop. If you’re prepared, the pressure is less.”
The games haven’t begun, and only then can the true measure of Daboll’s coaching ability be assessed. But he has done everything possible to prepare for this moment, working at a variety of jobs in the business, up to and including a highly successful run as the Bills’ offensive coordinator before being tabbed to coach the Giants. He knows there is stress ahead — a lot of stress, whether he wins or loses — but he is doing his best to prepare himself for what’s ahead.
“Taking care of yourself as much as you can in the offseason physically, mentally,” he said. “Doing all those things is important, because it’s a long year.”