Fassel will collect but wants to work

Updated: December 29, 2003, 4:09 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jim Fassel wants to coach another NFL team next season rather than sit back and collect the $2.7 million the New York Giants owe him for the final year of his contract.

Fassel will be selective in assessing job offers, but it was clear in his final Giants news conference on Monday that a disastrous 4-12 season has made him anxious to get back to the sidelines as quickly as possible.

"I want to coach," Fassel said. "I have plenty of energy. I guess God gave me that. The way I live my life is positive and I have energy. My preference would be not to take a year off."

Fassel met with his players and staff early Monday morning, ironed out some final mustering out details with management, talked to the media and then cleaned out his office.

Lunch with his staff and some of the video, public relations and other support personnel also was planned.

Fassel will leave his office for the final time on Tuesday and head to California, where his son, Mike, is playing for Boston College in the San Francisco Bowl against Colorado State on Wednesday.

While he has not spoken to any teams about a job next season, Fassel said he will make himself available for interviews.

He will have to try to explain what went wrong in a season where the team was expected to make a run at the Super Bowl.

A season-opening win over St. Louis only fueled the hype, but the Giants didn't do much after that. Turnovers, penalties and horrible mistakes left the team at 4-4 halfway through the season. A rash of injuries led to eight straight losses to end the season, which was the franchise's worst in two decades.

"We've had some good ones and some bad ones," Fassel said. "We've had some very good ones and this one reached the bottom. It was a culmination of a lot of things, but there is no question, I feel like I can be a successful coach and that is what I want to be - in this league."

Fassel posted a 58-53-1 record, making him the third-winningest coach in Giants history behind Steve Owen and Bill Parcells. New York reached the playoffs three times under Fassel, highlighted by a Super Bowl appearance in 2001.

"I think he has left the team and the organization in a better spot than it was when he got here," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "There are a lot of great memories, a lot of wins, a lot of tough times. But all in all, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me and the team."

The last 10 days have been somewhat emotional for Fassel, who made a brilliant public relations move in getting the Giants to announce his firing 10 days early, while allowing him to coach the final two games.

Instead of being the focus of constant hoopla concerning his job status, Fassel defused the situation and become a sympathetic figure who was able to end his tenure with a sense of closure.

Fassel still found it tough leaving.

Hours after a 37-24 loss to Carolina on Sunday, he admittedly had a hard time walking back into Giants Stadium for a look.

Even after his final news conference, Fassel had trouble ending his coaching tenure. He walked out into the tunnel beneath Giants Stadium and encountered a group of Boy Scouts from Dumont.

In typical Fassel fashion, he stopped, talked to them and posed for pictures.

"It is not like I'm leaving somewhere that I don't like and I am looking for greener pastures," Fassel had said earlier in his news conference. "I am looking to go somewhere else and try to turn that around and win and go to the Super Bowl. My goal is to go the Super Bowl again and win this time. That is what it's about."

And if Fassel doesn't get a job next season, he can always sit back and cash those checks that will pay him $2.7 million.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press