Super Bowl 2012: What Would a Win Mean for Tom Coughlin's Legacy?

Troy BelcherCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2012

With a win in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Coughlin will likely cement his induction into the Hall of Fame
With a win in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Coughlin will likely cement his induction into the Hall of FameJamie Squire/Getty Images

With a win over the New England Patriots this Sunday, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin could seal the deal and be headed to the Hall of Fame.

Never before have I seen a coach in the NFL that has been so up and down over his tenure, and Coughlin has been exactly that, needless to say.

Wasn't it just back in Week 17 of the regular season when the Giants were facing the Cowboys for the NFC East title and entrance into the playoffs that Giants nation was calling for Coughlin's head?

This was especially the case after the Giants started 2011 with a 6-2 record, and lost four straight games to endanger their chances of making the playoffs.

Did the man that his players call "Colonel Coughlin" ever expect to be playing for his second Super Bowl ring? Did the man that coached under Bill Parcells ever expect to have such success after facing such adversity?

Tom Coughlin is an amazing story that not too many people appreciate.

Adversity is something that kicks many of us, especially while we are down, and Coughlin was no exception.

After he took over as head coach for the Giants in 2004, he inherited a team that was 4-12 just a year before.

After a surprising 5-2 start in 2004 led by Kurt Warner, the G-men went on to lose two straight games and drop to 5-4—this is where the Eli Manning era began.

In 2004, Tom Coughlin put Eli Manning under center as a Rookie; he'd never regret it
In 2004, Tom Coughlin put Eli Manning under center as a Rookie; he'd never regret itDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

Coughlin was ripped apart by the city of New York after he decided to play his rookie, Eli Manning, because it seen as him surrendering when the Giants were still in contention for the playoffs.

Manning struggled mightily in his rookie season, and New York went on to lose six of seven games that he started.

Fans enjoyed the dividends that paid off to playing Manning in 2004, as he took the Giants to a 11-5 record and an NFC East title in only Coughlin's second season.

Talk to Tom Coughlin about perseverance, because he is the definition. His Giants have faced consistency issues all throughout his tenure in New York, and just when you thought he was down and out, he always found a way to rise them back up to the occasion.

Once again, in 2011, the Giants looked like a hapless team at one point in the season, especially when they fell to 7-7 after an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins in Week 15.

In that Week 15 loss, Eli Manning only completed 23/40 passes and threw no touchdowns compared to three interceptions. This was one of the lowest points that Coughlin had in Giants' country.

What revamped Coughlin's tenure in New York was obviously the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win over the 18-0 New England Patriots.

Of course, going into that game, the Giants were heavy underdogs, and of course, the Coughlin-led G-men found a way to win with perseverance and heart.

No, by no means has it been a consistent or immaculate career for Tom Coughlin. He is no Vince Lombardi, he is no Bill Belichick; but he is a man that believes his team is capable of anything, and with that, success has found its way into the New York Giants' organization.

Do you think that after everything Giants nation has been through with Tom Coughlin, that the next time the Giants struggle the fans will be calling for his head? I wouldn't think so.

While it's nice to have a consistent team that can go into every game knowing they are going to play decently at the very least, that's not what it is all about.

If that logic was applied to how NFL coaches are rated, then the majority of NFL coaches would be classified as "bad."

With a win in Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Coughlin wouldn't go to the Hall of Fame because of his many immaculate, winning seasons and NFC East Championships, but because he is a story of "never quit."

How many times throughout Coughlin's tenure in New York has it looked like the Giants had quit on their city, and themselves?

The Giants wouldn't hold onto Coughlin if they didn't understand what he was worth to this organization. He understands the capability and heart of his players, and when they get down, he just gives them a reminder of that.

Should Tom Coughlin be entered into the HOF with a win in Super Bowl XLVI? Heck yes, he should be. I don't know if there has ever been a more influential, motivated and willed coach in any sport.

More than wins, more than awards, more than rings, will I respect perseverance in a man like Tom Coughlin any day, because it's easy to win with quarterbacks like Tom Brady, receivers like Randy Moss and Wes Welker, linebackers like Mike Vrabel and lineman like Richard Seymour. Tom Coughlin never had that much skill assembled on his team, but he's always found himself on the winning end, because of his heart and his perseverance.