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Coughlin says Jaguars fans wouldn't have done the same


Tom Coughlin couldn't escape the Notre Dame issue, but even that was overshadowed by what happened in Cleveland Sunday.

In his noon press conference today, Coughlin complimented Browns coach Butch Davis for his actions in helping protect the Jaguars from the bottle-throwing crowd, but scolded Browns President Carmen Policy for his postgame remarks.

"Butch Davis was very concerned about our team and our safety," Coughlin said of the moments following the suspension of play in Cleveland, when a shower of beer bottles and other debris caused referee Terry McAulay to suspend play with 48 seconds remaining in regulation and the Jaguars leading 15-10.

"He apologized to me, which he didn't have to do," Coughlin added of Davis.

Coughlin, Davis and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver met with security officials in the tunnel area outside the two teams' locker rooms, after NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ordered McAulay to complete the game. "He did not want a precedent of that nature set," Coughlin said of Tagliabue's ruling.

About 25 minutes after play was suspended, the Browns, Jaguars and McAulay's officiating crew re-entered the playing field through the Browns' tunnel entrance, though that didn't stop the fans who remained from showering the field with more debris. Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell killed what remained of the clock with two kneel-downs.

Policy's postgame remarks were supportive of the crowd's behavior. He said Jaguars fans would've reacted the same way in Jacksonville if what happened to the Browns had happened to the Jaguars, referring to a replay-review process that overturned a fourth-down completion at the Jaguars' nine-yard line.

"That's not a responsible statement," Coughlin said of Policy's comment. "Our fans have been in many close games and have not reacted that way. That was dangerous; very dangerous. Contrary to what was said, they were not all plastic bottles."

It was the Jaguars' last-ever game against an AFC Central Division opponent. The two teams will play against each other next season in Jacksonville, but may not meet again until 2005.

"Anything that has to do with the AFC Central has been good for us," Coughlin said when asked if he's glad he doesn't have to play in Cleveland again for possibly several years. "If we had to go back, we'd look forward to it. That's a great football city and a great football part of the country. I wouldn't have any bad thoughts about going back."

Coughlin continues to be dogged by questions about rumors he'd like to become the new head coach at Notre Dame. Today, he issued his strongest response.

"This is the job I've always wanted," he said of the Jaguars head coaching job. "It hasn't been great the last couple of years, but if I could design a job, this is what I would want it to be. I have a great owner. This is where I want to be; Sunday, one o'clock in the NFL."

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