Steve Tisch said he and fellow Giants co-owner John Mara will meet, as they always do, at the conclusion of the regular season to discuss what changes need to take place in the organization. One of those decisions will be about Tom Coughlin and his future as coach of the franchise.
But while Coughlin himself has accepted the blame for a disappointing season that stands at 3-9 with a seven-game losing streak, saying on Monday that he takes responsibility for the failures and "whatever price has to be paid for that responsibility," Tisch made it clear that Coughlin is not to blame for the current state of football disarray.
"I think it's unfair to blame one individual," Tisch said on Tuesday. "That's totally unacceptable. Tom has been very gracious saying 'Blame me, blame me, blame me.' I don't blame Tom Coughlin. I don't blame any single player. It's just been a very frustrating year. We've had a lot of injuries . . . with starters, with key players, with captains. It's been a tough, tough year. But we're going to get it right."
It wasn't an absolution. It wasn't a vote of confidence. But neither was it a condemnation nor a noncommittal "no comment." Tisch's statements did give a sense that ownership recognizes there are more issues to resolve than who will be the coach.
"We'll look at what needs to be changed, what needs to be adjusted, what needs to be fixed and what positions both on the playing field and in the coaching staff need to be replaced," Tisch said.
Tisch was at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, alma mater of his father and former Giants co-owner Preston Robert Tisch. He was announcing a $1.2 million donation to fund 53 certified trainers to work with New York City public school football programs at their games and practices. But not even that generosity could overshadow the obvious debacle this Giants season has become. Tisch himself even turned to the high school players from Erasmus and Lincoln who were lined up behind him and joked that he had signed several of them to play for the Giants on Sunday. "The team just got stronger," he said.
Of course, it's not that simple to improve an NFL team. Tisch said he knows it will take a while. "Is it turning around an ocean liner? No," he said. "Is it turning around a motorcycle? No. It's a process and the process is going to take time. It's going to be addressed by passionate people, intelligent people, people who care about the game, the Giants and their fans."
Tisch seemed particularly bothered that Coughlin would hoist the blame upon himself. But not surprised by it.
"Tom is such a selfless coach, such a strong, selfless human being," he said. "It's predictable that Tom would say 'It's on my shoulders, it's on my watch.' But I don't think it's appropriate."
And then, for the second time in several minutes, he said the five words that will be at the crux of those critical discussions. "I don't blame Tom Coughlin."
How much weight is carried by that, or the next four games, or the last two Super Bowls the Giants added to their collection, remains to be seen.
"John Mara and I are going to look at this after the [season] and start asking some tough questions and making some tough decisions and giving the fans, hopefully, some hope going into the 2015-16 season," Tisch said.
"We're going to figure this out . . . I sincerely and truly believe we're going to get this right."