Former Giants coach Jim Fassel has died at the age of 71.
As was confirmed by his son John Fassel to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, the elder Fassel suffered a heart attack while under sedation. He had been hospitalized and was dealing with chest pains.
Fassel coached the Giants from 1997 to 2003. He took home Coach of the Year honors during his first season in ’97 and eventually led the Giants on an improbable run to the Super Bowl during the 2000 season. After Thanksgiving that season with New York sitting at 7-4 and coming off two straight losses, he famously guaranteed the team would make it to the playoffs.
“This is a poker game, and I’m shoving my chips to the middle of the table,” Fassel said. “I’m raising the ante, and anybody who wants in, get in. Anybody who wants out can get out. This team is going to the playoffs, OK? This team is going to the playoffs.”
The Giants would win five consecutive games to secure home-field advantage after that.
In addition to his time with the Giants, Fassel coached with the Broncos, Raiders, Cardinals and Ravens in the NFL and had a successful four-year stint with the Las Vegas Locomotives in the UFL before that league folded.
Fassel’s death prompted many tributes from across the NFL. That included poignant, heartfelt comments from one of his former defensive stars, Michael Strahan.
“[He was a] big part of my life. Just a great man, great coach and he will be missed,” Strahan said Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” “But I was definitely shocked this morning to find out this news and I just want to send my love and condolences to his family. Great man. I enjoyed every minute with him as my coach and after my career when we continued to stay in touch and talk.”
Additionally, many prominent NFL figures, friends of Fassel, NFL teams and fans honored him on Twitter.
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