On the surface, the fact that Tom Coughlin signed a three-year contract extension with the New York Giants last spring could have been construed as a sign that the NFL's oldest head coach only planned on working the sidelines for two or three more seasons. After all, in the coaching world, where lameduck seasons don't happen to legends, a three-year deal is really only a two-year deal.
So it was always a possibility that Coughlin could walk away after the 2013 season. Because why else would a man who had pretty much earned a lifetime membership as the Giants' head coach only sign a deal for three years?
Everything else, though, pointed to Coughlin sticking with the G-Men for quite some time to come. He's not a man of many hobbies outside of the game and probably doesn't have a calling in another realm such as media.
"I'm not mentally, not physically, ready [to retire]," Coughlin told Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union nine months ago, just before signing that three-year extension. "
I feel I have good energy. I'm excited every day. The competitiveness, the nature of the business, is something that I'm still excited about. I don't wander down that path. I don't think about retirement. I enjoy the situation I'm in. I appreciate the backing I've received from [Giants] ownership and the way the players have responded to our program. I really don't feel any pull or tug in another direction. I look at it on a yearly basis. In our business, no matter how many years they give you on the contract, it's a one-year deal anyway.
So, what kind of intel was veteran Giants defensive back Terrell Thomas using when he suggested on Wednesday that Coughlin might only have one year left? Was Thomas thinking about that extension and Coughlin's age (he'll be 67 before the season starts), or was he considering Coughlin's demeanor and/or mentality?
Maybe it's a combination of both, but it's clear that nothing came from the horse's mouth. Thomas has a feeling, which is still relevant because he's spent more time with Coughlin than all but about 75 or 100 people in the world in recent years. That said, the above quote he gave Frenette indicates that even Coughlin isn't sure when he's going to call it quits.
I'll take the over.
Coughlin strikes me as the kind of guy that could make a run at that George Halas/Marv Levy record for oldest head coach in NFL history. Those two coached until they were 72, and Coughlin doesn't feel or look like a man who will be 68 when his current deal expires in two years. He's just too damn effective to be chased out of this job and he's just too damn dedicated to walk away whilst still being so damn effective. A pretty awesome cycle, that is.