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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Tom Coughlin still has the ‘fire in the belly’

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants gestures to his team during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac


Life without coaching has been an adjustment for Tom Coughlin for a variety of reasons, not the least of which revolves around his domestic life.

“I don’t have my routine, and Judy and I downsized, so we can’t even hide from each other,” Coughlin said, referring to his wife after their recent move from a single-family home to a town house in northern New Jersey. “I’m just there, so she’s not crazy about that. She’s looking at me like I’m trespassing. That’s just how it goes.”

It has been less than two months since Coughlin announced he was stepping down after 12 seasons as the Giants’ coach, and a man so used to having a routine for so many years is still unaccustomed to not having to be somewhere — and five minutes early, as is his custom.

But at 69 Coughlin has zero desire to simply retire and enjoy his post-NFL career. He made it clear Wednesday morning at the scouting Combine that he still wants to coach. At the very least, he wants to continue working in some capacity where he can “be significant. I want to be able to make a contribution, and that will put the old fire in the belly.”

Coughlin is here as a member of the NFL’s Coaches Advisory Committee, a group formed by former coach and broadcaster John Madden to recommend rules changes and safety-related measures to improve the sport. He hopes he can have a more prominent role, perhaps in the league office, where former coaches frequently are hired to help with game-related issues.

“I would like to talk to Roger, so that would be one option,” said Coughlin, referring to commissioner Roger Goodell. “It’s going to be up to them.”

Giants president John Mara has said he would welcome Coughlin to remain with the organization to help with scouting and personnel, but Coughlin said there “hasn’t been a lot of discussion about that.”

Coughlin still works out at the Giants’ facility, where he sees his successor, Ben McAdoo, as well as the rest of a coaching staff that largely has remained intact. Awkward? At times, yes. Coughlin was even on the same flight to Indianapolis as McAdoo, and the two remain close after working together the previous two seasons.

“It’s not as comfortable, honestly, but I don’t interrupt anybody or disturb anything or disrupt anything,” he said. “Usually I see Ben when I’m in there, and I get a workout in and visit others in the building.”

Coughlin doesn’t seem uncomfortable that his departure was the only significant one from a team that retained general manager Jerry Reese, promoted offensive coordinator McAdoo and kept defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

“That’s the Giants’ business,” he said. “Once I left, that’s their business. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. These are all people I hired. I hired them because they’re good coaches.”

Coughlin met with the NFL’s Competition Committee (of which Mara is a member) early Wednesday, then spoke with general managers during another session. A meeting with player representatives was set for the afternoon.

“I want to hear what the hell goes on when they bring the players in here,” he said. “I have to figure out how that [2011] collective bargaining agreement got done. The players group had a lot to do with that CBA.”

One of the big changes was a reduction in how much players could practice, something Coughlin found difficult to deal with. “People want to solve the offensive line issue? Well, let them come in and work,” he said. “How about that for a unique answer? Let them work.”

Work always has been the answer for Coughlin. For his players. And for himself. “I’m doing OK, I’m doing fine, but I want to work,” he said. “I need to work.”

Coughlin interviewed for two coaching vacancies after his departure from the Giants, with the Eagles and then the 49ers. Coughlin said there was mutual agreement that neither situation fit, and the Eagles wound up hiring Doug Pederson and the 49ers hired former Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

“It wasn’t going to work with Philadelphia, and I didn’t want to encourage something,” Coughlin said. “Believe me, the [49ers] situation was attractive, but I’d probably be in San Francisco by myself, with the 12 grandkids on the East Coast and my whole family on the East Coast. I just felt at this point in my career, it wouldn’t be right.”

The Eagles showed perhaps the most interest, but Coughlin said he was in a difficult spot.

“You get a feeling when it may not be right,” he said. “And let’s face it, I was emotionally close to what just happened [with the Giants]. I wasn’t in a great frame of mind when I went down there. For a lot of reasons, it just wasn’t going to be.”

Coughlin said a college job doesn’t interest him. “By the time I got a recruiting class in there, I’d have a few more years on people,” he said of the time lag before a college team could be built successfully.

So it’s the NFL or bust, and Coughlin knows time isn’t on his side. But he certainly felt comfortable being back at the Combine and back at the same hotel he stayed at when he won his second Super Bowl.

“My two favorite cities in America — Indianapolis and Glendale, Arizona,” Coughlin said, also referencing the site of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory. “This was our hotel. Great memories. Great memories.”

Sounds as if he’d like to make another great memory. He’d like another chance.

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