Top 5 Head Coaches: No.2, Tom Coughlin

There was a time when Tom Coughlin was considered underrated. Actually, he probably wasn’t rated at all.

Since it’s kind of hard to go to NY, win multiple Super Bowls and still be overlooked, it can be said that at the age of 66, when some cats are trudging through the halls of an assisted living facility, Coughlin is still pacing sidelines and finally getting his due in his 18th season as a HC.

While some NFL coaches win a couple of games and are quickly labeled as the next coaching juggernaut, Coughlin has incrementally and diligently moved to the upper-echelon of HCs. 

At this stage of Coughlin’s career, his resume (162-128 career record, 12-7 postseason) is a sparkling example of his deep impact on every team he’s ever coached.

In his first eight seasons, he took an expansion Jacksonville Jaguars team to two AFC Championship games. He came to a NY Giants team in search of stability in ‘04, and helped the franchise re-establish itself as one of the NFL’s consistently elite teams.

Being considered the NFL’s top coach is a spot that is usually “reserved” for the stone-faced, hoody-rocking, football nerd from New England. Bill Belichick gets all of the accolades, but Coughlin sits at home every night knowing he beat his old coaching-buddy-turned-nemesis, in two straight Super Bowls (‘07 and  ‘11).

So you can add Pats-killer to his increasingly extensive line of accomplishments. There isn’t a soul on earth, other than Coughlin who could make such a claim. Like Belichick, Coughlin is from the Bill Parcells coaching cipher. He’s a hard-ass, disciplinarian with little tolerance for players who miss meetings, dog it, or rebel against the expected protocol of the team.

The image of a red-faced Coughlin animatedly running the sidelines, encouraging and reprimanding players in their grill pieces captures the identity of his best Giants teams.

Giants owner John Mara raves about Coughlin’s work ethic and legendary preparation, but you’re supposed to know your X’s and O’s with 44 years of coaching experience under your belt.

It’s Coughlin’s youthful energy that is most impressive. He’s old enough to be some of these players grandfather, but he still relates to them and is able to inspire them to step-up to his level of commitment and enthusiasm. The dude still runs 100-yard dashes at the stadium in his spare time.

He’s living proof that old heads can still coach, and this season, he’s looking to get back in the winner’s circle after an underachieving ‘12 season. He’s a go-hard.  

“Most guys who’ve won a couple of Super Bowls, that’s a pretty good resume” Giants GM Jerry Reese told “But his thinking is, ‘You know, a lot of guys have won two Super Bowls. Let’s win three. Let’s win four. That’s literally how he thinks.”

Coughlin’s like a vintage automobile in that his value to the NFL continues to rise with every victory, the class with which he handles defeat, and his philosophy of building champions one personally accountable player at a time. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.