Pat Shurmur walked into the Giants’ facility for the first time on Thursday afternoon. The tour lasted just a few steps before it came to a crashing halt.
There, in the lobby, just paces from the front door, behind a glass case, stood the franchise’s four Super Bowl trophies.
For those who have worked in the complex for some time, it’s often easy to stroll past without noticing them.
He will be on the sideline for his 20th season as an NFL coach in 2018, and all but two of those have been spent working in buildings that held no such hardware. Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minnesota — all of them barren of professional football’s ultimate ornament, the Lombardi Trophy.
Even when he was in St. Louis with the Rams for two years, there wasn’t such an homage to the past. Plus, there was only the one trophy.
So that’s when it became a reality for Shurmur. That’s when the significance of his place in the history of one of the NFL’s marquee franchises became clear.
Not Monday, when he accepted the job. Not Friday, when he was introduced at a news conference. It was Thursday, when he stared into the silver and saw his reflection bounce back at him.
“I stopped and I read each one,” Shurmur told Newsday. “I read each of the coaches’ names on the bottom, Bill [Parcells] and obviously Tom [Coughlin]. It struck me in a way that I feel a responsibility to get another one.
“It would be an honor to try to put another one in there.”
The Giants spent most of Friday making the case that Shurmur is just the guy to do it.
“We believe that he is the right coach at the right time for this franchise,” co-owner John Mara said. “Hopefully, it’s a new beginning for us and gets us back to a place we want to be. Establish a winning culture. It’s been a rough five years.”
Co-owner Steve Tisch echoed that sentiment.
“I just feel excited, enthusiastic and extremely optimistic that Pat Shurmur as the New York Giants’ head coach is the right decision,” he said, “and I can’t wait to see him start putting all of the pieces back together.”
Two years after heaping praise and hope on Ben McAdoo as their new head coach while standing in front of those same four trophies, the Giants’ owners did the same for Shurmur. What makes them think they are right this time?
“Two more years of experience,” Mara said. “We needed somebody who is a quote, adult, unquote. Who is professional. Who has a certain demeanor. Who can walk in and start to straighten things out. I think he has that quality.”
Shurmur gave every indication of that in his first public appearance as the 18th head coach of the Giants. He spoke about having “zero tolerance for people that don’t compete, zero tolerance for people that don’t give effort, and I have zero tolerance for people that show a lack of respect.”
He spoke about putting together “a tough, gritty team that knows how to compete.” He said the Giants have hired “a career coach . . . a guy that doesn’t know what he would do if he wasn’t doing this.”
He handled the bright lights of his first media appearance as well as he handled the brief blackout when the auditorium went dark because of an accidentally flicked switch.
“And we’re off,” he chuckled. “We have to keep adjusting, I guess.”
The Giants are adjusting, too. This is their first head- coaching hire since they brought in Dan Reeves in 1993 who does not have a history with the franchise.
“As a true outsider, I can look at the organization and the players with fresh eyes,” Shurmur said of the advantage of such a situation.
But he also noted how beneficial it is to work for a team that already has a trophy case that can stop a person in his tracks.
“I think it’s part of the Giants’ DNA,” Shurmur said. “They’ve done it. And there are people in this building who were here when it happened. We just have to try to create that magic again.”