EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants fired Ben McAdoo less than two seasons into his first head-coaching job. It was quite the precipitous fall from grace after an 11-5 record and playoff berth in his first season.
McAdoo was fired Monday, when the team had the day off. So he didn’t have a chance to address many of the players. Only his coaches and the quarterbacks had the chance to speak with him before he left the building.
Most players and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo didn’t have an opportunity to comment publicly until Wednesday. When they did, the locker room almost had a feeling of indifference. There wasn’t outrage or an overload of disappointment or joy. There were smiles, laughs and it was business as usual for this current Giants group, which seemingly has been deluded most of the season with their inability to recognize the fires around them.
Here’s what they had to say on the firing of McAdoo:
QB Eli Manning
“I feel for Coach McAdoo -- he’s been a great coach for me, a great friend. We had a great relationship; I hope we continue to have one. I was able to have a good talk with him Sunday before the game and then got to see him Monday before he left as well. So, I have great respect for Coach McAdoo and I don’t think this is his fault, but obviously, just where the team is, the Giants had to make a decision, and that’s what happens when you’re 2-10.”
(on The Michael Kay Show)
“Most definitely was surprised by the whole situation. It caught me off guard. When I first heard about the news, I was thinking somebody was trying to joke, but then it actually came through. So, very surprised.”
(to NJ Advance Media)
“I would give [McAdoo and Reese] another year. I would say [evaluate] next year, because the biggest thing is the injuries that really hurt us.”
QB Geno Smith
“I mean, I think I had an opportunity to play. I respect the heck out of Coach McAdoo. I think he did something maybe not a lot of people would have. He gave me an opportunity, and I respect it. I appreciate it. As far as sympathy or something like that, I’m not looking for it. I don’t need any sympathy. I’m built for all of this. I’m built for everything that’s going to come my way, and I know that all of these tests and these trials are preparing me for something greater. So, I look at adversity as something that can be positive. I’m thankful for the adversity, and I look forward to it.
“I don’t really know what goes on outside of this building, but from the inside, they did a great job at keeping things normal. He coached us up until the last day. He coached us hard. I spoke to him before he left the building. I shared my gratitude with him. I told him how I felt about him. I appreciated him, and he said the same.”
“[The players] look all right. Everyone looks cool. You never want to see anybody lose their job. You never wish that on no man. But at the end of the day, you have to move on. You can’t dwell on it too much. If he means something to you, you say your goodbyes and you leave it at that.”
CB Eli Apple
“A little bit surprising, but that is a part of the business. You just have to be a football player. Be a professional and do your job.”
OL Justin Pugh
“I felt bad, obviously. Been through a lot with Coach McAdoo. He was the offensive coordinator most of my time here. Definitely a tough situation. I realize from an organization standpoint, you know, 2-10. But that’s on everybody in this building. That’s not just on one man, and it’s an unfortunate situation, and the more I’ve been in this business, the more I see how much of a business it is, and I realize things like that happen. I just wish we could have won some more games for him.”
Interim coach Steve Spagnuolo
“Before I get going, if I can, I’m just going to say a couple things, then I’ll let you fire away. It’s been a rough 60 hours since we left Oakland. Needless to say, it’s been real emotional. Everybody has kind of felt it. The first thing I want to say or convey is how much respect I have for Ben and what he did here as the head football coach. I feel personally I’m one of the guys that let him down. We failed as a team, but part of that failure was me. So, it’s really hard. It’s hard for me to stand here in the position I’m in right now, and I want to publicly thank Ben for two years ago sticking with me as the defensive coordinator here. I greatly appreciated that. He’s a great man. He’s a great coach. He’ll be a head coach again in this league in my opinion, and a really good one.
“A hard conversation. I mean, I saw Ben [on] Monday. I’m not going to share the whole thing. I have a great deal of respect for him. I told him what I just told you, that I think he did a heck of a job, and I do believe that he will be a head football coach in this league going forward.”