'We're on target'
Fassel exhibits calm demeanor at Super Bowl media day
Updated: Wednesday January 24, 2001 2:54 AM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- With the biggest game in his coaching career less than a week away, a glib and relaxed Jim Fassel breezed through Super Bowl media day Tuesday -- until it was time for the New York Giants' team picture.
The calm Fassel exhibited during 60 minutes of questions about his guarantee, the amazing road to a Super Bowl meeting with the Baltimore Ravens and host of other topics was gone just like that.
Picture taking suddenly made him antsy.
As Fassel sat on a folding chair on the grass field at Raymond James Stadium, his team stood behind him on metal bleachers that looked like a downhill ski course.
"We had 300-pound guys on the top row and it seemed every time someone moved that thing swayed," assistant equipment manager Joe Skiba said.
As the photographer got ready to take the picture, Fassel suddenly jumped out of his seat and started barking instructions to his team, emphatically pointing his finger this way and that way and making sure every player on the bleachers didn't move unless instructed.
Sit still. Don't move. Let's get this done and get out of here.
"He's right on top of everything," said general manager Ernie Accorsi, who was seated on one of the folding chairs. "He's really prepared about everything. That was scary. I'm afraid of heights. I would not have gone up there. If somebody would have moved, we would have lost half the team."
Even after the picture was finished, Fassel wasn't satisfied.
Players, coaches and front office personnel seated on the folding chairs quickly got up and moved them. Fassel then turned to the bleachers and helped move a couple of footlockers into place to help his players step down.
Then he directed the evacuation, one row at a time.
"He's the captain of this ship," said Mike Murphy, the Giants' head of team security who was standing on the top row of the 8-foot wide bleachers that seemed to rise three stories.
That's just the way Fassel has been this season, particularly since guaranteeing that the Giants would make the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
During that memorable press conference on Nov. 22, he said "he was driving the bus," "driving the train," "raising the stakes" and "shoving my chips to the middle of the table."
He took command and the team has followed him without question, posting seven consecutive wins and reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1990.
'What makes me relaxed is I think I am organized and my staff is organized,' Fassel said before the picture. 'We have everything in place and we're not running around worrying what about this, what about that.
"We're on target," the 51-year-old said. "Everybody is in place, staff, the PR department. We have a schedule and a plan and it's just of matter of executing it."
The rest of the stuff that goes along with being the head coach is easy, as Fassel exhibited in handing questions on former Giants quarterback Kent Graham, Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, his guarantee, any of a number of Giants players, his new hair cut and even being fired from his first head coaching job at Utah in 1989.
"When you ask any person about success, one of the first things they say is they came through the tough times," Fassel said. "That's what I have to remind myself."
For the most part, Fassel looked relaxed during media day. He smiled a lot, used his hands to express himself when he spoke and cracked jokes every time he got the chance.
When asked how the Giants were going to block the two fat guys in the middle of the Ravens' defense, he shot back.
"We got two fat butts blocking them."
But then came the picture and Fassel took command like he did with the season slipping away in late November.
"I always tell my players, let your actions speak louder than your words," Fassel said.