Damon Amendolara sought out Steve Beuerlein for some insight into Tom Coughlin, in part because Beuerlein played for Coughlin in Jacksonville in 1995.
What Amendolara found out from Beuerlein, however, was shocking.
“Well, let me just tell you: I am not the person to comment on that,” the NFL on CBS analyst said on The DA Show. “I had the shortest stint in NFL history as a starting quarterback, and it happened to be my time with Tom Coughlin. I was brought to Jacksonville with the first pick in the expansion draft for the 1995 season, and I was told that I was going to be the starting quarterback there for an extended period, that they’d be patient with me and let me develop with the team.”
Beuerlein lasted all of about two-and-a-half quarters as the starter.
“In the third quarter of the first game in franchise history, we were losing, 7-0, to the Houston Oilers, and I got taken out,” Beuerlein recalled. “I hadn’t turned the ball over. I hadn’t done anything wrong. We were playing like an expansion team. But Tom Coughlin pulled me out of that game and put Mark Brunell in, and the rest is history.
“So I’m not the right one to talk to about thoughts on Tom Coughlin other than to say I do believe he is a tremendous football coach,” Beuerlein continued. “I do believe he knows the game, and I do believe that he’s changed over the years. I caught him in his first year in the NFL as a head coach. I think he was trying to find his way and trying to establish his control over that franchise and he had a nice run there.
“And he’s had a very good run with the New York Giants, too, and I have a lot of friends who told me he did evolve as a coach and a guy who could relate to the players better. But my exposure with him back in that very early, early part of his head-coaching career was not the most positive one. So I’ll just leave it at that.”
When pressed further, though, Beuerlein, 49, admitted he was completely blindsided by the benching.
“I was talked to by both the Panthers and the Jaguars,” he recalled. “Both of them were going to pick me with the first pick in the expansion draft that year because they came in at the same time, but Jacksonville won the coin flip, and they asked me if they chose me if I would be excited to go there. And I said, ‘Well, if everything works out the way you (say it’s) going to be – if (you’re) going to let me have some time to grow with that team – I’d be interested in going for sure. Well, they picked me, and like I said, the rest is history.”
Oddly enough, Beuerlein’s last play as a starter that day was a fumble by running back James Stewart.
“We were putting a drive together, going in for a score, and he fumbled (around) the 20-yard line,” Beuerlein said. “I came to the sideline and Tom Coughlin pulled me. So, his mind was made up on Brunell. He wanted Brunell in there. But it significantly affected my career. That’s why I was a little bit bitter about it and why I still obviously still harbor some ill feelings about that.”
Aside from a short, unpleasant exchange at the 1999 Pro Bowl, Beuerlein and Coughlin have not spoken to each other. Still, Beuerlein has tried to keep it in perspective, especially since they’ve both gone on to bigger and better things.
“Through all of it, I’ve always said the same thing,” Beuerlein said. “I do think he’s a tremendous football coach – and his two Super Bowls prove it. The run that he had in Jacksonville was pretty impressive, too.”