Tom Coughlin's charge to coach well into his 70s was admirable and, for quite some time, believable. It was like Tom Brady wanting to play well into his 40s, or Adrian Peterson racking up 1,000-yard seasons into his mid-30s.
But because they all share a trait that continually strives for greatness, the end of their careers will be a disappointment because they never really saw it ending.
By the time they touched down in Minnesota, Coughlin's Giants were already eliminated from the playoffs. They went on to get blown out by the Vikings, 49-17, guaranteeing themselves a record under .500 for the third year in a row. They are missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, which is the longest dry spell the franchise has seen since the late 1970s.
"I am not worried about that," Coughlin said, via the New York Post, when asked about his job security. "It will all take care of itself. I do not coach worrying about that."
Worry is a relative term for Coughlin, who already has won two Super Bowls. His place in Canton is likely secure. He was able to coach his son in law for a decade which, in turn, kept his office and facility packed with family and grandchildren. He had 12 seasons with the Giants, a franchise viewed by many coaches as the best gig in sports. He got another eight seasons with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars.
Still, he did not want to end what could be his final season like this. Yet again, he'll hit the offseason waiting for notice of job security. Yet again, he'll hear about how former Steelers coach Bill Cowher could come out of retirement and do this job better. Or that the Giants would be better off with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or Brian Kelly from Notre Dame.
"We have one week to go, there's some soul-searching that has to be done on everybody's part -- players, coaches, me," said Coughlin, who has one year left on his deal.
Players are supportive, but they always have been for the most part. They love Coughlin, but many of them have not seen a postseason berth. Coughlin's hand-picked defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, was rocked again last night. His talent-starved unit is giving up almost 420 total yards per game, the worst in the NFL.
It wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility to see the Giants give Coughlin one more chance to finish out his deal, but at what point are you worried that the prime of Eli Manning's career will be wasted? There are certain windows to win in this league and the Giants may realistically be approaching the end of theirs. No one has pulled out upsets like Coughlin in the past, but it's up to the organization to figure out if he has one more left.