EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With the New York Giants facing a difficult decision on his coaching future after four consecutive years out of the playoffs, Tom Coughlin walked away gracefully, doing what was best for him.
The Giants gave him 12 years to run one of the NFL's flagship organizations. He delivered two Super Bowl titles and restored the franchise to the league's elite for a while.
It was mutually beneficial, and so was the departure Monday when the 69-year-old Coughlin resigned rather than force co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch to fire him.
The Giants announced the decision one day after they ended their third consecutive losing season with a 35-30 loss to Philadelphia. New York (6-10) lost six of its last seven games.
"I met with [owners] John Mara and Steve Tisch this afternoon, and I informed them that it is in the best interest of the organization that I step down as head coach," Coughlin, 69, said in a statement. "I strongly believe the time is right for me and my family, and … the Giants organization."
Coughlin, one of 13 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls, is scheduled to attend a news conference Tuesday with Mara, Tisch and General Manager Floyd Reese.
"In addition to delivering two Super Bowl titles, Tom represented us with class and dignity, and restored the pride to our entire organization," Mara said.
In a what-might-have-been season in the mediocre NFC East, the Giants' failures came down to, as Coughlin often said, "finishing." New York lost six games in the final 74 seconds of regulation or in overtime.
Coughlin's future was the main topic as players cleaned out their lockers Monday. The coach had spoken to the team earlier in the morning.
"He's been a great coach to play under," said two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, whose voice quivered at one point talking about his only NFL coach.
"We have a great relationship, great trust. I appreciate the way he works, I think he appreciates the way I handle my business and play quarterback and prepare and get ready. … I appreciate everything he's done for me."
Coughlin posted a 110-93 record in 12 seasons with the Giants, winning three division titles in addition to his two league crowns. He was 72-64 in eight seasons with the then-expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, taking them to two AFC Championship Games.