EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Family dinners at the Coughlin household still have a little New York Giants flavor to them. It is to be expected that Super Bowl XLII or XLVI might be part of the conversation with a former Giants coach and offensive lineman in attendance.
Tom Coughlin coached the Giants for 12 years. He’s the second-winningest coach in team history and will be inducted into the Giants' Ring of Honor at halftime of this week’s Monday Night Football game between New York and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Coughlin’s son-in-law, Chris Snee, played 10 seasons for Coughlin and the Giants. The former All-Pro guard was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor last year.
It’s only natural when they get together that sometimes they reminisce about what they accomplished considering they experienced their fair share of success.
“They are memories we’ll have forever. It is fun, and at times it comes up, we’ll bring up certain games -- the Super Bowls come up quite often -- but there are lots of memorable games throughout the 10 years,” Snee said. “It is fun. It is special because our careers are short. The fact that we had such success together and now we get to look back on it together, our names will forever be on the stadium together, it certainly does mean a lot to me, Coach, but also to my kids and to anyone in the family. Monday will be special.”
Yes, Snee still calls his wife's father, the grandfather of his children, “Coach.” It is a reflex at this point. They spent a decade together forming a coach/player/in-law relationship. They saw firsthand each other’s struggles and successes.
There are few with a better feel of Coughlin’s Giants tenure -- how it unfolded from start to finish and how it should be remembered -- than Snee.
“The best way you can sum it up is saying it was successful,” Snee said. “It was two Super Bowls in 10 years. Five playoffs. Not everyone is the New England Patriots. Not everyone is going to make it year after year. That can’t happen. “But, like I said, it’s the way he brought back that winning culture, that 'Giant pride' that may have been gone for that brief period of time. In my opinion, that is what he brought back and should be mentioned with him along with the Super Bowls.”
Snee is bullish on that Giants pride. He believes it’s a major part of his and Coughlin’s Giants legacies. They helped restore the attitude and feeling that was present when the Giants won Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV.
It’s what fans constantly mention when talking about their era of New York Giants football.
“They always say it brought them back to the [Bill] Parcells era,” Snee said. “For Coach [Coughlin] to come in in '04 and really change the culture, which had kind of gotten off path a little bit, it took a couple years to get it done, but he brought in all his guys and got back to that winning culture.”
Players and fans grumbled about Coughlin’s militaristic ways early in his tenure. He was hard and tough, especially on his son-in-law. Snee remembers teammates not wanting to open up around him because of his connection to Coughlin. He remembers players moaning and complaining about the laborious nature of their new head coach.
Slowly, they saw teammates who were not fully invested in winning shown the door. They saw Coughlin bring in his players. Snee didn’t necessarily realize what was happening at the time, but Year 4 -- the 2007 season -- helped put it all into focus.
Coughlin and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. Four years later, they won Super Bowl XLVI. At that point, the coach’s legacy was already written.
“He won two championships,” said former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, who was involved in hiring Coughlin. “For me, having been through five straight playoffs and three championship games in four years in Cleveland and we never won the championship, I don't like that. It's nice to win every year, to be at the doorstep every year. “The business is to win championships; he won two championships. That puts him in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. I don’t have a vote but he’s a Hall of Fame coach.”
A Hall of Fame coach who, for most of his 12-year tenure, helped restore Giants pride.