Wins and losses are as they are. The peaks – think again on January 14, 2001 – are right there, written in the media guide. As well as low. He won more than he lost, reaching the Super Bowl with a new team and enduring seven years in a big blue fish bowl that challenged all Giants head coaches to keep their heads above water.
More than anything else Jim Fasel has accomplished since arriving in 1997 until he left after the 2003 season, he has succeeded in doing so: he has made his players play for him.
The exciting news that Fasel died Monday night at the age of 71 is a brutal wake-up on Tuesday morning for anyone who has worked, played, written or is rooted for the Giants. Fasel was taken to a hospital near his home in Las Vegas, complained of chest pains and died while under sedation.
“Much of my life,”
Some called Fassel “Gentleman Jim,” but he was stricter, and he gave the Giants everything he had while he was allowed.
Fassel, a native of Anaheim, California, played quarterback at Fullerton College, USA and Long Beach, and was the Bears’ seventh pick in the seventh round in 1972. He was a senior coach at the University of Utah and coached John Ellway as an assistant at the Broncos. His son John is the coordinator of the Cowboys’ special teams.
For the record, Fasel was 58-53-1 with the Giants and made the playoffs three times in his seven years. He impressed general manager George Young in his two years (1991 and 1992) as Giants offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, rising above the mess that was the regrettable regime of Ray Handley. When it became clear that Dan Reeves was not suitable and the giants were ready to move on after the 1996 season, Young hired Fasel, who was leaving a season in which he helped resurrect Boomer Eciason in the desert with the Cardinals.
Fascinated (at first) and somewhat bookish-looking, it was tempting to dismiss Fasel’s ability to inspire a room full of NFL grays. He inherited a sick quarterback – Dave Brown, Kent Graham and rookie Danny Canel – and made him work. Fasel went down the field with Canel, and the growing defense, led by Strahan, led the Giants to a record 10-5-1 and the title in the NFC East. Fasel was named NFL coach of the year in his first season, but his team took the lead and lost to the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs.
The day before Thanksgiving in the 2000 season, the Giants were 7-4, but had lost two games in a row. Leaving Seasons 8-8 and 7-9, Fasel knew that job security depended on his team – with the heavily armed Carrie Collins, now quarterback – entering the season. Fasel entered a press conference on Wednesday and, having planned all this one night earlier, came out with a playoff guarantee.
“It’s a poker game and I’m pushing my chips in the middle of the table,” Fasel said. “I lift the ante and everyone who wants to enter enters. Anyone who wants can go out. This team is going to the playoffs, right? This team goes to the playoffs. “
This team really went to the playoffs.
“We’ve always felt that he believes in us,” Collins told The Post. “He was tough when he needed to be, but he was encouraging and always seemed to keep us going in the right direction most of the time.”
Fasel’s giants have won their last five games of the regular season to finish 12-4. They defeated the Hated Eagles, 20-10, in a playoff game at Giants Stadium – catching a ballet like Jason Sehorn was paramount – and in the NFC title game, they defeated the powerful Vikings 41-0, allowing franchise patriarch Wellington Ma glowing moment in a noisy stadium address after the match.
“This team was named the worst team to win the National Football League home advantage,” Mara said as the crowd roared. “And today in our field with painted mud we proved that we are the worst team that has ever won the NFC championship. In two weeks we will try to become the worst team that has ever won the Super Bowl. “
That didn’t happen, as the Phasell Giants were crushed by Ray Lewis and the Super Crow Defense, losing 34-7 in the Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. G 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.
There will be another unforgettable, unforgettable moment for Fasel. His violation was a dynamo in 2002 and jumped to a 38-14 lead in San Francisco, which developed into a playoff of the 49, but an epic collapse, highlighted by a special team fiasco (a bad click from Trey Junkin), led 39 -38 loss. Fasel was then on loan and fired after the Giants became 4-12 in 2003. He was replaced by Tom Coughlin and never got another job as an NFL head coach.
“The fact that he never had another chance in the NFL really worries him,” Collins said. “I don’t think he ever overcame that.”
Fassel with the Giants hired John Fox to lead his defense and Sean Peyton as a young assistant to work on the attack, both of whom became excellent NFL head coaches. Fassel faced a difficult challenge during the 2001 season after the entire New York area was rocked by a terrorist attack that toppled the World Trade Center by visiting Ground Zero and setting up a foundation to help the families of those responding.
Fasel is disappointed that the Giants do not consider him worthy of inclusion in their Honest Ring. His time with the giants comes after the legendary Bill Parcels and before the legendary Coughlin, but Fasel gave the franchise some stunning moments.
“We were all saddened when we heard about Jim’s death,” said co-owner John Mara, offering his condolences on behalf of his family and the Tish family. “Jim was a good man and his record as our coach speaks for itself. Jim excelled in the way he managed our team and dedicated his efforts to firefighters and other families after the 9/11 tragedy. The players respected Jim and enjoyed playing for him and his coaching staff. And we appreciated his seven years leading our team. “