August 24, 2021

Tom Coughlin: From Coach to Caregiver: Former NFL coach and exec Tom Coughlin has written a poignant essay in the New York Times revealing his wife Judy's decline from an incurable brain disorder. He writes, "I’ve spent my entire life preparing for some of the biggest games a person could play, but nothing can prepare you to be a caregiver who has to watch a loved one slip away."

posted by rcade to football at 08:56 AM - 2 comments

Sad news about Coughlin's wife. It reminds me of what my mom had to do when my grandmother suffered cognitive loss in her final decade. Full-time caregiving has to be one of the hardest things any person could be asked to do.

Of all the sports figures in Jacksonville while I've been here, Coughlin may loom the largest in my imagination. I loved seeing him dourly patrol the sidelines during his years as head coach. Nothing ever seemed to please him. He reminded me of a Catholic priest and I nicknamed him Father Tom.

His comeback as an exec brought one dream season and several nightmare ones.

The real Tom seems to be a lot warmer than my perception of him. He created the Jay Fund Foundation charity to support families battling childhood cancer in honor of his Boston College player Jay McGillis, and even when he was coaching New York he ran a big Jay Fund charitable golf tournament here every year that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.

posted by rcade at 09:51 AM on August 24, 2021

I'm glad the NY Times allowed comments on Coughlin's op ed. I haven't read them yet but no doubt his tale struck a resonant chord with readers.

It certainly did with me. Seems like each caregiving opportunity prepares you in some way for the greater challenges of the next one. But as he says, there's nothing that can fully prepare you.

The last time I was in the role, I went a straight 2 1/2 years with one day off. That was to attend a funeral in a neighboring state. I rented a car and they upgraded me for free to a luxury vehicle. The darn thing glided along and practically drove itself. I took no amenities for granted and enjoyed every mile.

After the service, we gathered at a very nice place for refreshments and when I saw they had an open bar, I went on serious shore leave. I don't remember much what happened the rest of the afternoon. I rested, took a long walk to clarify, and drove home as slowly as I could. You don't get to go to funerals every day and I was determined to make the most of the experience.

posted by beaverboard at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2021

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