Judy Coughlin: Postseason contract allows Tom Coughlin to relax

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said during the NFL Network's "Coach Speak" series that aired this week that he also has a long-term deal with another party.

Coughlin has a contract with his wife Judy, who requires him to take five days off with her soon after each season ends.

"It started out with a purpose of us getting away together to communicate because, unfortunately, during the season, it's brief," Judy told NFL Evolution from Florida on Thursday. "We have Friday nights, but a lot of those are tied up with other plans and other things. I wanted my time where we could just hang out. The thing you don't think of in the hour or two that you have on Friday nights would come up."

The 67-year-old coach has been leading the Giants since 2004. Before that he was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995-2002 and head coach of Boston College from 1991-93. But he has been with Judy through those stops and more, crediting her for keeping the family together.

Judy said she believes the contract is just as good for Tom as it is for her and their relationship.

"It used to be only three or four days," she said. "I think it was (Jaguars quarterback) Mark Brunell that said, 'Hey, if I were you I would renegotiate that contract and ask for five.' So I worked it up for five and even this year, I got a couple more days.

"That was the whole purpose of it, for us to be able to communicate and to catch up on life and things. It actually benefits him more than it does me. Once he plans on it, once we get away, he totally can relax and enjoy his time."

Judy said her main job these days is keeping track of their family: two daughters, Keli and Katie; two sons, Brian and Tim; and 11 grandchildren: Emma Rose, Dylan, Shea, Cooper, Caroline May, Marin Elizabeth, Wesley, Brennon, Clara Amelia, Walker and Allie.

"We love family," she said. "Tom is a family man. It's a full-time job now that I have 11 grandchildren. I keep him informed on where they are, what they're doing. I spend a lot of time flying up and down the East Coast. I love it."

She said the grandkids also have been instrumental in changing Tom over the years. While he was coaching the Jaguars, Tom was known as a gruff "my-way-or-the-highway" type of coach. In recent years he has fostered a reputation as a facilitator and a team-builder, creating a leadership council with the team's veterans and going out of his way to create a bridge with the media.

"He still only knows how to do things one way, but he understands now you have to change," Judy said "He always had an open-door policy. Well, there weren't too many that were willing to step through that open door.

"Now, the players, the coaches, everybody is very comfortable with him. It took time, but I've seen him mature and grow and understand why that's important."

As for the media perceptions of Tom, Judy said his public persona is more important to her husband than he lets on.

"It took him a long time to understand that aspect of things because he quite frankly didn't care," she said. "(He acted like) he didn't care what the media thought. He honestly does care. He wants people to know what he wants and what he's about.

"He still is the same person as far as rules and regulations, it's just that (these days) he's a little more apt to explain why they're important to him."

After watching two segments of the four-part roundtable series, she thinks people are seeing a different side of Tom.

"I've enjoyed watching it and I've enjoyed watching the coaches interact with each other," said Judy, who added March's NFL Annual Meeting -- where it was taped -- is her favorite event of the year. The reason is mainly because it represents the rare time she gets to talk with other coaches.

"(Watching the series), it was fun for me to watch Tom, Rex and John, whom we know really well, and Bruce Arians. ... They're all characters, for sure."

While Judy said she always is impressed with other head coaches' wives, she does have some advice for a spouse new to the NFL head-coaching fraternity.

"The only time we are thrown into the situation together is game day and you really don't want to be anybody's friend that day," she said. "... My biggest advice would be communication, which in this day and age is so much easier than when Tom and I started out in the NFL. There weren't even cell phones. I just never bothered him with any issues unless I was on my way to the emergency room with one of the kids.

"In this day and age, it's so much easier and the new wives know and understand that. It's about building a strong relationship between you and your husband. That's the important thing."

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