LOS ANGELES — The news Wednesday to remove one of America’s great leaders from office sharply divided the nation. But sadly for that man’s supporters, only one person was allowed to vote. Namely, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Khan fired Tom Coughlin as the team’s Executive Vice-president. Only one man has led the Jaguars twice since their founding in 1995. Likewise, only one man has been fired by the only two team owners the Jaguars have ever had. And yes, only one old-school military man man refused to bend to the new-school obsession with coddling millennials. That man was Jacksonville’s Tom Coughlin.
The rise and fall of one of the great NFL coaches
Back in 2007, Tom Coughlin was told that he had to change or be fired from his job coaching the New York Giants. He took the team out bowling and told his players that he loved them. He bonded with them, ultimately leading the Giants to two Super Bowl championships. Both times, consistently defeated superior competition along the way.
Eventually, Tom Coughlin softened his image. But he never strayed from the discipline the military installed in him. “Coughlin time” meant being five minutes early to meetings. Four minutes early was considered late. Players were fined for being late to meetings.
For a long time, Coughlin’s approach worked. He led the Jaguars to the AFC Title Game in 1996 and 1999. Then, he led the Giants to Super Bowl championships in 2007 and 2011. Later, he returned to the Jaguars as team president and led the Jaguars again to the AFC Title Game in 2017. They led the heavily favored Patriots 20-10 in the fourth quarter before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady did what they do in a 24-20 Patriots win. Rather than take the next step in 2018, the Jaguars collapsed.
Disciplinarians no longer wanted in the League of the Woke
Coughlin was a disciplinarian. But so were most of the best NFL coaches. Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Chuck Noll and Bill Parcells all won multiple championships while ruling with an iron fist. Parcells groomed Coughlin, and the results were stellar.
Unfortunately, Tom Coughlin became a victim of the social justice movement that in some ways has poisoned the NFL. Players took the knee during the National Anthem, a move Coughlin would never have been forced to accept in earlier years.
Coughlin fined players for missing meetings. So the players complained to their unions. So the unions filed grievances, and the arbitrators ruled in favor of the players. Finally, that was the last straw for the owner. Coughlin was going to be allowed to retire at the end of the season. But the Wrath of Khan ended Coughlin’s tenure two games early.
Yes, Parcells and Coughlin were abrasive. But they got the job done. Their star players have Super Bowl rings. Winning used to be what mattered. But now, far too many of today’s players are more interested in being social media celebrities. They can make more money as Instagram influencers than they can playing football.
For his part, Coughlin never forgot how to lead men. The men he was given to lead more recently were just far more “woke.” Aka, more emasculated. So the players complained, and the owner caved. The Jaguars will not be winning any time soon.
Winners will always prevail in the end
Like his tough predecessors, Coughlin is a winner who will absolutely be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, the Jaguars will do what most teams do. They will hire a replacement who is the exact opposite of Coughlin, a warm, fuzzy players’ coach. But when that inevitably fails, the front office will replace that person with a disciplinarian.
Players who truly want to win understand that a disciplinarian with Super Bowl rings knows what he is doing. Bill Belichick has six rings. He would have had eight, except that Coughlin beat him in two Super Bowls.
While the sissification of the NFL continues unabated, those teams where the coach’s word is law will continue to thrive.
Those who truly love the meritocracy that is professional football can be grateful for Tom Coughlin. For 25 years, he brought out the best in his players, ranging from Michael Strahan and Eli Manning. Just as Parcells did with Lawrence Taylor and Phill Simms.
Snowflakes on the gridiron?
Like many millennials, today’s players feel oppressed for having to dress appropriately and show up for work on time. They feel victimized at being fined or fired for violating rules. For his part, Coughlin did not adapt to the changing times. He kept his values, while the new generation threw theirs into the garbage.
Coughlin may have lost his job. But he is a better leader than the social justice warriors who decided that getting him fired was more important than doing their jobs properly.
The next couple of years will go a long way toward determining whether football will remain a game of toughness or be reduced to spoiled brats crying about micro-aggressions. For the sake of football, NFL team owners had better allow their remaining disciplinarians to restore order.
With that, we present our NFL 2019 Week 16 Preview and Bettor’s Guide. Point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all posted game times Eastern.
Saturday, December 21, 2019, 1:00 p.m.
Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) —
Jameis Winston is an interception machine, but he just became the first quarterback to throw for 450 yards in two consecutive games, and not during garbage time either. However, the Texans have everything to play for and they have the better defense. Upset special, Texans win outright.
Saturday, December 21, 2019, 4:30 p.m.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-6.5) —
If the Bills win this game, they could break the Patriots’ streak of 10 straight AFC East championships. Yes, New England’s offense has been struggling. Yes, the Bills are a good football team with a very good defense. But with everything on the line, betting against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is suicide. Patriots cover.
Saturday, December 21, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) —
So the 49ers went into Los Angeles and spanked the Rams in what seemed like a changing of the guard for both teams. The 49ers have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs, and the Rams have regressed from last year. 49ers cover.
Sunday, December 22, 1:00 p.m.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons (-6.5) —
As already noted, Jacksonville fired Captain Grumpy, Tom Coughlin, for demanding discipline. But despite getting a win last week, the Jaguars are an undisciplined mess. The Falcons have improved since a 1-7 start, going 4-2 down the stretch. Their offense is clicking. Falcons cover.
New Orleans Saints (-1) at Tennessee Titans —
After an agonizing home loss to Houston, Tennessee remains one game back in the AFC South. The Saints are in Super Bowl-or-Bust mode. Ryan Tannehill has been playing well and Derrick Henry is a beast. However, betting against Pinball Wizard Drew Brees in big games is unwise. Saints cover.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-3) —
Both teams are 3-11. Eli Manning desperately wants to go out a winner. The Giants almost beat Philadelphia and then beat up Miami, which means very little. Home field does not matter in this one. Upset special, Giants win outright.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at New York Jets —
The Steelers have everything to play for. Mike Tomlin teams play hard. But for some reason, they have a maddening habit of losing one game a year to inferior talent. With the Jets, we always find it hard to know which team will show up. Steelers cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (-3) —
The Bengals can guarantee themselves the top pick in the 2020 Draft with a loss. A win would give the Dolphins an outside shot at getting the top pick. In the Stupor Bowl, go against the team that wants it least. Dolphins cover.
Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) —
These teams both started strong and collapsed. At home, go with the Colts offense over a Panthers team that seems to be mailing it in. Colts cover.
Baltimore Ravens (-7) at Cleveland Browns —
Baltimore needs one win in its final two games to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. John Harbaugh would love to have the chance to rest his starters in the season finale, which a win here would allow. As badly as the Browns want to play spoiler, the Ravens are too talented. More importantly, they remain too disciplined to overlook their hated rival. The Dawg Pound always gears up for this game, giving the Browns a chance to ride an emotional early on. Ravens win, but fail to cover.
Sunday, December 22, 4:00 p.m.
Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (-6.5) —
Granted, the Lions are a mess. But the team told Matt Patricia he would return in 2020. The Broncos have vastly improved under Drew Lock. At home, go with Lock until proven otherwise. Broncos cover.
Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5) —
While the soon-to-be Vegas Raiders at 6-8 technically remain alive in the playoff chase, they are actually dead. Four straight losses killed them. Worse, an unforgivable home loss to Jacksonville revealed the Raiders simply lacked heart. While this could turn out to be a home game for the Raiders, it will not matter. Josh Jacobs is injured and out. So are the Raiders. But they might defeat the spread by grabbing an early lead. And then blowing it when it matters. Chargers win but fail to cover.
Dallas Cowboys (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles —
Both teams are 7-7. If the Cowboys win, they lock up the NFC Least. If the Eagles win, they climb into the driver’s seat. In the battle of talented, underachieving teams, go with the home field. Upset special, Eagles win outright.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5) —
The Seahawks have a serious shot at home field throughout the playoffs. They are not going to overlook Arizona. This game could get ugly early. But the Cardinals may cop a garbage touchdown. Seahawks win but fail to cover.
Sunday, December 22, 8:00 p.m.
Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at Chicago Bears —
KC’s Chiefs have an outside shot at a first round bye and a tiny chance at home field throughout. The Bears are done, and the Chiefs possess more than enough offensive firepower to steamroll them. Patrick Mahomes won’t run into difficulties. Chiefs cover.
Monday, December 23, 8:00 p.m.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5) —
Finally, we arrive at the NFL’s last Week 15 pre-Christmas holiday game. This one is black-and-blue NFC North football. If the Packers win, they win the division. If the Vikings win, that puts them in position to win it. Both teams have a shot at a first round bye and even home field advantage throughout the playoffs, although Green Bay has more of a chance. The Vikings win the Mike Zimmer way, by playing hard-nosed defense. The spread is too high, given that Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as ever. But trust the home field. Vikings win but fail to cover.
— Headline image: Tom Coughlin (L) with President Bush. 2008 photo-op and remarks to NY Giants.
Public domain photo via WhiteHouse.gov, appearing in Wikipedia entry on Tom Coughlin.