It was a Monday to reflect, close the book on old business and add a chapter to an ongoing story. On a day when Tom Coughlin expressed his sadness at the passing of former Giants GM George Young, the Jaguars coach made what will probably be his final comments on Notre Dame's hunt for a head coach, and restricted his discussion on his most recent suspension of R. Jay Soward.
"I was shocked. I was not aware George was ill," Coughlin said of news of Young's passing. "My memories of George are of a man who devoted his whole life to the NFL. It was well-documented what George brought to the New York Giants."
Coughlin was an assistant on coach Bill Parcells' staff when Young became known as the best personnel man in the league in the mid-late 1980's. Young had even sought Coughlin as a replacement for Parcells, when Coughlin was the head coach at Boston College.
On the subject of college coaching, Coughlin told reporters at his noon press conference today he is not upset he was not contacted by Notre Dame. "Congratulations, George. He's a good friend of mine," Coughlin said of George O'Leary, who was announced yesterday as Notre Dame's choice to succeed Bob Davie.
With that, Coughlin was able to turn the media's attention fully back to the Jaguars. That about-face began with questions about Soward, who Coughlin suspended the day before Sunday's win in Cincinnati.
"He is suspended indefinitely," Coughlin said today. "It's my choice. I'll handle it internally; violation of team rules."
Coughlin said the Jaguars have asked the league for guidance on the league's suspension policy. The Jaguars want to know for how many games they may suspend Soward for his most recent breach of conduct.
Two weeks ago, Soward completed consecutive suspensions totaling 10 games. He hasn't played in a regular-season game since Dec. 17, 2000, in Cincinnati and has been paid his weekly salary only once this season.
Soward and other circumstances continue to make this a tough season for Coughlin, but Sunday's win in Cincinnati should help ease the tension this week. For the first time this season, the Jaguars were able to protect a lead they held late in the fourth quarter.
"The cycle of losing games late started over there and I said to my team, 'This is where it will stop,'" Coughlin said, referring to a loss in Cincinnati last December when the Bengals rallied to send the game into overtime, then kicked the game-winner following a Jaguars fumble.
This Sunday, the Jaguars will be back in Ohio, where they will face the Cleveland Browns. It will be a game with a revenge theme for the Jaguars, who were 2-0 when the Browns won in Jacksonville on Sept. 30 and began the Jaguars' fall.
"Then was then and now is now. We have to focus all of our attention on winning," Coughlin said in downplaying the possibility of lingering ill feelings from the two teams' last encounter, which resulted in a $35,000 fine for defensive tackle Gerard Warren's hit on quarterback Mark Brunell.