Tom Coughlin has a reputation.
The New York Giants head coach is gruff. He’s demanding. He’ll fine his players for not being early enough to meetings.
But there’s also a side of the veteran coach that most people don’t see. The family side. The side that is a grandfather to 11 children, the side who not only founded a charity to help children fighting cancer but brought in his entire family to help run it. As far as Coughlin is concerned, that side is much more him.
Now, the 68-year-old Coughlin is back on the sidelines for another season with Big Blue and, although they may not be in the spotlight, his family will be right there to support him as well. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Coughlin & His Wife Judy Have Been Married Since 1967
The long-time pair have a deal. Every season, no matter how the season ends, Coughlin takes five days off in order to spend time with his wife. It gives the couple a chance to reconnect after the insanity that is the NFL season and to take a step back from the spotlight.
Judy said that the deal was, at first, just three or four days away from the field but former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell suggested that she should renegotiate and hold out for five days. Truth be told, the break may benefit Coughlin the most.
Of course, Judy has been with Tom throughout his career, moving from Boston College to Jacksonville to New York and two Super Bowl victories. Now, she says, most of her time is spent with family, particularly the growing group of grandchildren.
2. Judy Is Heavily Involved With Coughlin’s Jay Fund Foundation
Coughlin established the Jay Fund in 1996, while coaching in Jacksonville, to honor Jay McGillis, a former Boston College player who was diagnosed and died from leukemia. The non-profit organization is dedicated to “children with leukemia and other cancers and their families by providing emotional and financial support to help reduce the stress associated with treatment and improve their quality of life.”
As of 2015, the Foundation had raised millions of dollars while assisting thousands of families across the United States.
Judy, of course, is heavily involved in the Jay Fund and regularly makes appearances with Coughlin at the Foundation’s events throughout the year. Their daughter, Keli, also serves as the executive director and has worked to expand the Jay Fund’s services in the New York and New Jersey areas.
3. Coughlin & Judy Have Four Children Together
Coming from a big family, Coughlin continued the tradition in his own life and he and Judy are parents to four children of their own. The long-time couple have two daughters, Keli and Katie, as well as two sons, Brian and Tim. Coughlin explained his mentality as a father to The New York Post:
My kids were certainly raised in a disciplined household. They knew what was expected of them. They knew that there were lines they couldn’t cross. We wanted them to enjoy themselves and have fun, and they did. I think they would tell you there were demands, and there were principles, and they were expected to do well in school and they did do well in school.
The mindet has worked out well as all four of the Coughlin children have found success in their respective careers. Brian currently works as the associate vice president for student development at Notre Dame while Tim, who escaped from the Word Trade Center September 11, is a bond trader for J.P. Morgan. Katie majored in psychology and regularly works with children being treated for cancer. Lastly, Keli, works as the Executive Director of the Tom Coughlin Jay Foundation.
4. His Son-In-Law, Chris Snee, Played for the New York Giants
Coughlin’s personal life mixed with his professional life when his son-in-law, Chris Snee, played for the Giants from 2004 to 2013. Snee, married to Coughlin’s daughter Kate, had a peculiar relationship with his coach, a mix of family and football that required a bit of metaphorical tight-rope-walking during the season.
When Snee decided that he was going to walk away from the game, after more than 150 games on the Giants offensive line, he knew he would have to tell his coach and his father-in-law and it became one of the most important conversations the pair would ever have. Coughlin told The New York Times:
I knew what he was coming to say. It was going to be very hard on both of us. I sat him down, and I told him I loved him. said to him: ‘You are a very, very important part of my family. I want you to think of your future.’
Since his retirement, Snee has stayed close to football. He’s worked as an analyst during Giants games and even helped the team draft Ererck Flowers this year, bolstering his former team’s offensive line.
5. Coughlin & Judy Also Have 11 . Grandchildren
Coughlin has long been considered one of the toughest coaches in the entire NFL. His philosophy of five minutes early is five minutes late has become the stuff of football legend and his demeanor on the sidelines during his first years with the Giants rubbed plenty of players the wrong way.
But, somehow, Coughlin has found his niche in New York and, according to his wife, it’s because of his grandchildren. She told The New York Times:
Grandkids have softened him. People think it’s winning two Super Bowls, but that’s not it. He wasn’t around for our kids a lot of the time, and when he was, it was, ‘Line up your shoes; go take a bath.’ But with grandkids, it’s different. You have all of the love, but you don’t have all of the responsibility. He’s had more fun with them.
That isn’t to say that Coughlin has relaxed when it comes to the rules. He’s still strict. He still wants players there early. But he’s also more at ease than he once was and that’s made all the difference. Two Super Bowls of difference, in fact.