Jim Fassel Bridged Giants Eras With a Smile. And, Once, a Rant.
Fassel therefore went the other way in 1997.
“The man has a mean streak,” Armstead, who was not gentle, said of Fassel in 1997. “You really don’t want to mess with him. He’s chasing people. You should see him.
Fassel will also be remembered for his active and energetic appearances at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan days after the 9/11 attacks.
“I just walked around talking and shaking hands with the people who worked there,” he said at the time. “They looked like they hadn’t slept in days, they were dirty and emptied. I stayed as long as I could just saying, ‘Thank you for what you are doing here.’ “
Under Fassel’s tenure, a host of top-tier Giants talent was developed: Amani Toomer, the franchise’s leader in entertaining; Tiki Barber, the team’s race leader; and Kerry Collins, the only quarterback in the Giants’ 96-year history to have five touchdowns in a playoff game.
An argument could be made that the powerful 2002 Giants offense that took a 38-14 third-quarter lead in a wildcard playoff game in San Francisco could have been Fassel’s better team. When they lost the lead and lost by a point, it was as if those Giants, and Fassels, never recovered. The following year’s team won just four games.
He resigned with a 58-53-1 record and a few days later he was on the verge of being named head coach in Washington when Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls there, stunned the owner. Dan Snyder team by expressing his desire to come out of retirement at 63.
There has never been another NFL head coach job offered to Fassel.
It was not cut from classic football coach fabric. He smiled too easily, told mundane stories, tried to get away from football when he could and wanted people to like him. But he’s won plenty of games, made a significant contribution to a legendary NFL franchise, won the devotion of dozens of players, and, in fact, has managed to win most of everyone who has come across him.
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