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Jim Fassel (1949–2021), former New York Giants head coach

by Linnea Crowther

Jim Fassel was head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 to 2003, leading them to the 2001 Super Bowl.

Football career

Fassel’s playing career was brief after his graduation from Long Beach State. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the 1972 NFL draft and played for the Bears, San Diego Chargers, and Houston Oilers in 1972. He was with the short-lived Hawaiians of the WFC in 1974 and 1975 before beginning his coaching career. He coached at several colleges, including the University of Utah, before moving to the NFL.

Fassel joined the Giants as an assistant in 1991 and became their head coach in 1997. In his first season as head coach, he was named NFL coach of the year, but he became less popular in the ensuing years as the Giants tended to lose to teams they should have been able to beat during his tenure. In the 2000 season, Fassell famously “guaranteed” that the Giants would reach the playoffs. They did – and they won the NFC championship. Two years after leading the Giants to the Super Bowl, where they were bested by the Baltimore Ravens, Fassel resigned.

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In later years, Fassel was offensive coordinator for the Ravens and coached the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL. He later became a color commentator for Westwood One’s NFL coverage.

Fassel on his career

“No matter what happens, I’ve had a great go of it. I raised five wonderful kids and had a good time coaching. When I first started, my dream was to be head coach of Anaheim High School.” —from a 2010 interview for the Los Angeles Times

Tributes to Jim Fassel

Full obituary: The New York Times

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