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Palladino: Coughlin To Eagles Would Not Be A Giant Betrayal

By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

Former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone interviewed for the Giants' head coaching opening Saturday.

Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is set to interview Monday.

Is it any wonder why Tom Coughlin continues to generate headlines? The Giants' search is a veritable snooze fest compared to the juice their former coach will generate 95 miles down I-95 Monday when he sits down with Eagles owner Jeff Lurie.

If everything goes well with that meeting, and if the Philadelphia owner has grown a brain since his hiring of the self-involved Chip Kelly, Lurie will hire the future Hall of Famer to straighten out the mess Kelly created after Lurie handed him the personnel department.

Should that happen, the combination of indignation and teeth-gnashing from this area will grow to deafening levels. Imagine, Coughlin leaving his beloved franchise to coach the Giants' most hated rival.

"Betrayed!" the critics will shout. "How dare he!"

They'll be wrong. Not only has the 69-year-old Coughlin earned the right to future employment, but he can seek it wherever he wants.

So get over it!

For one thing, aside from the fact that he couldn't pull a talent-challenged roster past 6-10, this situation wasn't Coughlin's creation. John Mara and Steve Tisch wanted change. Coughlin, not the guy in charge of stocking that roster -- general manager Jerry Reese -- took the hit.

Oh, sure, he resigned. Stepped down. Got out of the way. Took the high road. Use whatever euphemism brings the most comfort. Fact is, what Coughlin did he did at the point of a gun. Ownership guaranteed his final year of salary and Mara added something about keeping him in some ambiguous advisory position within the organization. But it was pretty clear Coughlin's time in the Meadowlands had expired.

Mara granting of the Eagles' interview request was more a formality. To deny them would have made the Giants look petty and small.

The man has done enough to earn the right to continue his coaching career. And if a rival has an opening, then so be it.

Coaches don't think like fans, anyway. These positions are jobs, and there aren't many of them. Just 32, actually, and they don't all come open at once. So coaches go wherever opportunity, situation, and ownership's vision of the future intersect.

Sometimes, it's with a former team's arch-rival. It happens.

Bill Parcells had no compunction about finagling his way out of New England for the Jets. And after he was done there, he went south to work for Jerry Jones, who just happens to own another of the Giants' rivals, the Cowboys.

Jets fans won't soon forget the woe Rex Ryan caused his old team this year by beating them twice with Buffalo, ultimately dealing their playoff hopes the death blow in the season finale.

It even happened in baseball ages ago when fabled Yankees manager Joe McCarthy retired in 1946 and then un-retired in '48 to take over the Red Sox.

Coaches understand that pro sports is a "What have you done for me lately?" proposition. Their reality encompasses opportunity, not loyalties, especially to the teams that saw fit to get rid of them, for whatever reason.

Besides, Coughlin isn't the "circle the date" kind of guy, anyway. If Lurie does hire him, Coughlin will regard the Giants just as he viewed the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins. They'll just be one of three division opponents the Eagles need to beat on the way to a playoff spot.

Knowing that, the only anger one should feel up here if Coughlin is hired down there involves the inconvenience of postponing his Ring of Honor ceremony until he's done in Philly.

Before that? That would really be awkward.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino

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