In a completely unexpected move, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride announced his retirement on Thursday afternoon, ending a long and successful career in the NFL. And despite mounting pressure from fans of the organization to fire him, Gilbride's decision to walk away appears to be one he's been mulling for quite some time.
“It’s hard to say, ‘It’s time,’” Gilbride told Giants.com. “To finally do it, it’s a very unnatural feeling. I’ve been telling my wife [Debbie] for years I was going to do it. … I knew this was it and I was going to do it. I finally pulled the trigger. But it’s difficult.”
One of the reasons Gilbride chose to retire was because of the strain his NFL coaching career had begun to put on him and his family life. He revealed that over the last 3-4 years, he's been staying alone in a local Hotel during the season because his wife moved back to Rhode Island to help take care of their daughter and granddaughter — a tremendous sacrifice no matter how much a person's salary may be.
“I have great respect for Kevin and Debbie and their family, so it’s not an easy thing to part ways,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “Kevin is a professional. He’s been an exceptional football coach for the New York Giants. He helped win two Super Bowl championships. Kevin was the play-caller in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He has done a great service to the franchise.”
“Kevin is an outstanding coach who made enormous contributions to this franchise,” said John Mara. “He helped us win a lot of games over the past 10 years, including two Super Bowls. He will be remembered as one of the best coaches to ever represent the New York Giants.”
Although his career ends on a sour note, Gilbride says he'll be able to look back upon his Giants tenure with pride. In addition to two titles, the long-time coach recalls fondly watching Manning develop into the elite leader he is, as well as the development of both Steve Smith and Victor Cruz, who became the first two Big Blue Pro Bowl wide receivers since 1968.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of coaching,” Gilbride said. “Certainly the last 10 years with the Giants has been a special time, to be part of the bringing the Super Bowls to New York and New Jersey and the Giants organization. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the development of some of the young players that we brought along, certainly starting with Eli. But (also) Steve Smith and Victor Cruz; they hadn’t had a Pro Bowl receiver since 1968 and we brought two back to them. That’s been fun. And I thoroughly enjoyed being part of those exciting last-minute drives that we seem to excel at. That 2011 season, we had six or seven of them, including the Super Bowl.”
Under Gilbride, the Giants' offense scored 400+ points three times — something that has only happened five times in the organization's history. And with the exception of 2013, had finished in the top 10 in total offense for five consecutive years (2008-2012).
At the end of the day, despite his flaws, Gilbride led one of the most high-powered offenses in franchise history and helped lead Big Blue to two Super Bowl titles. For that alone, a tip of the cap and best wishes are due. Like the owners, GM and coach, we thank Gilbride and wish him the very best moving forward.
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