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Waterloo’s Tom Coughlin remembers John Madden voice mail message in 2007

NFL Hall of Fame coach John Madden died Thursday at 85.

In a New York Times essay, Waterloo’s Tom Coughlin, two time Super Bowl winning coach of the New York Giants, remembers a voice mail message Madden left him after his Giants lost the final regular season game of 2007 to the New England Patriots:


As we approached the end of that season, our playoff position was secure after beating the Buffalo Bills, and our last game was against the undefeated New England Patriots. There had been a great deal of discussion by media people who didn’t think I should risk playing our starters. The division about whether we rest our players or go all in was real. By Monday night, I decided we would play our starters and we were playing to win. History would not record that we did not do our best. Even though we lost, 38-35, the game proved to me and our team that we could play with the best.

I will never forget walking into my office at 5 a.m. that Sunday after losing, seeing that red light flashing on the phone and listening to the voice mail message that was waiting for me from John. What he said truly exemplifies how he felt about the game. It meant so much to me, I copied it down verbatim.


John said:

“Just called to congratulate you and your team for a great effort last night. Not good, but great. I think it is one of the best things to happen to the N.F.L. in the last 10 years, and I don’t know if they all know it, but they should be very grateful to you and your team for what you did. I believe so firmly in this: that there is only one way to play the game, and it is a regular-season game and you go out to win the darn game. I was just so proud being a part of the N.F.L. and what your guys did and the way you did it. You proved that it’s a game and there’s only one way to play the game and you did it. The N.F.L. needed it. We’ve gotten too much of, ‘Well, they’re going to rest their players and don’t need to win, therefore they won’t win.’ Well, that’s not sports and that’s not competition. I’m a little emotional about it. I’m just so proud.”


The Giants went on to defeat the Patriots 17-14 in the Super Bowl, ending their bid for the second perfect season in NFL history and making Coughlin one of two coaches to defeat Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl.



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