Indianapolis – They tried to talk him out of this. They tried to tell him that it was a tough lifestyle of uncertainly and upheaval, that it would be difficult to climb the ranks, and that there would be a lot of time spent in some very unglamorous places doing unglamorous things.
“What do you want as a father?” Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride asked out loud. “You don’t want your children to have to go through the difficult times. So we said ‘Stay as far away from this coaching as you can.’ But just like everything else, you saw how well they listened.”
Good thing he didn’t because now he and his son, Kevin M. Gilbride, are one game away from something very magical. The younger Gilbride is an offensive assistant for the Giants in his second year on the staff, and they are believed to have the chance to become the first father-and-son coaching combination to win a Super Bowl ring in the same season.
“It is special, there’s no question,” the younger Gilbride said. “But it’s not so special with us. What’s special to us is the day to day that we get to spend together and I can go in and ask him a football question and he responds in depth. I think, you’d have to ask him, but I think he’s enjoyed being around me as well.”
He has, especially since he was not around for so many of the other years. Gilbride essentially left his family in Jacksonville when he became a head coach in San Diego because his son was a junior in high school – and a pretty good quarterback – and asked not to transfer across the country for his senior year.
Now, 15 years later, they’re making up for lost time.
“In this business, you spend so much time with everyone else’s son you never spend enough time with your own,” the older Gilbride said. “So to have him with me has been real special and I’ll certainly be forever indebted to Tom (Coughlin) for letting him come on board.”
It wasn’t his name that got him the job. Gilbride, 31, worked his way up through the system, first as a graduate assistant at Syracuse and then with Georgetown and Temple. He was a wide receivers coach at Temple four years ago when the Giants won Super Bowl XLII and remembered how Owls head coach Al Golden, who is now at the University of Miami, met with him early in the morning the day after the Giants beat the Packers in the NFC Championship
“He came into my office and he said ‘That’s awesome, that’s such a special thing,’” Gilbride recalled. “He said ‘I don’t know how we’ll work it,’ because we were still recruiting, ‘but you can go to the Super Bowl.’ It was pretty special and great of him to recognize the importance that it was to my family.”
This one, though, is even more special because they are really together for it. Most of their football interactions ate mediated through position coaches. The younger Gilbride will pass information up the chain of command to his father, the older will send directives back down through the other coaches to his son. But there are times they get to enjoy each other’s company. At one of this week’s media sessions, they ever got to sit at the same banquet table during interviews.
That may never happen again. Either one could be fired or hired this offseason. The offensive coordinator doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, but a young coach like his son would likely have plenty of opportunities for advancement as a position coach in the NFL or even back in college. So they are cherishing what little time they do spend together.
“It’s not like I see him a lot, but if I see him for 30 seconds a day … just to be able to see him it’s special,” the elder Gilbride said. “And to be able to say it’s in a Super Bowl year, that’s a dream come true.”