Tom Coughlin and Ernie Accorsi have a lot in common.
They helped build a pair of Super Bowl champions with the Giants. They will be enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor Monday night. They are among the most well-regarded men in the NFL. One of them even hired the other.
The biggest difference?
One of them wants back in and the other is glad he’s out.
Speaking in advance of their Ring of Honor ceremony (which also will include former defensive end Justin Tuck), Coughlin and Accorsi each had a very different take on his future. Coughlin has made no secret of his desire to return to coaching ever since he stepped aside as Giants coach in January and made sure not to say he was retiring. On Monday, he continued to hold onto the possibility of coming back to the sideline for an NFL franchise.
“I would be less than honest if I had told you that I didn’t miss the sideline,” Coughlin said. “As far as the future holds, who knows? I wouldn’t speculate on anything.”
Others, though, have put forth the prospect of the 70-year-old taking over as Jaguars coach in the near future. Coughlin was the first coach for the expansion Jaguars from 1995-2002.
Accorsi, the general manager who retired in 2007 with the Giants on the brink of a championship, said he has far different feelings and is glad he left the job when he did. Asked if he would find it hard to be a general manager in this age of social media and non-stop reporting, he said: “Yes. A resounding yes.”
Accorsi, 75, serves as a consultant to many teams during their offseason searches for head coaches and general managers, but putting himself back in that chair is not something he would relish.
“I would have a lot more trouble today,” he admitted. “Look at the difference between what I did during my time where I talked to you guys (in the media) every day, which I thought was great. George Young did it, I just followed up on it. Pete Rozelle, when he was commissioner, took every call. That’s the way it was, and that way, to talk to you guys didn’t turn out to be an event. It was just a daily conversation. I liked it better that way. It was a much better situation for me, it was a situation I grew up in and I liked it. I would have trouble today.”
Their late-life ambitions aside, both said they remain heavily invested in the Giants. Accorsi said he had to turn off the television Sunday after Eli Manning’s second fourth-quarter interception because he was so nervous about the Giants blowing their lead against the Eagles. (“I still have jitters,” he said.)
“I think they have a lot of young, exciting players,” Accorsi said. “I think they’re really in good shape right now. They came through a period with some close games and clutch wins. I like the team and I think they have a chance to be really an explosive offense and obviously, the defense is much better. I think with what they did on Sunday, the defense in particular, those are the kind of things that happen that take you to another level.”
Coughlin’s relationship with the Giants is much closer both in time and personnel (Manning is the only remaining Giant brought here by Accorsi). He called himself “just a bystander now and a fan” but said he, too, likes where the team is heading.
“Good to see on a couple of occasions that the defense has done well,” Coughlin said, noting something that was hardly the case during his final years. “They have come into ballgames and had to be in position to make a strong contribution and they have done that. It’s good to see that.”
He also said he is proud of the job his successor, Ben McAdoo, has done in his first season.
“Someone asked me at the beginning of the season that question about rooting for the Giants,” Coughlin said, “and the answer that I gave was an honest answer. I will always root for the Giants.”