Former Giants Coach Tom Coughlin Opens Up About Being His Wife's Full-Time Caregiver Before Her Death

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Judy and Tom Coughlin
Judy and Tom Coughlin

Courtesy Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Judy and Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin has had impressive success over his career in the NFL. As the head coach of the New York Giants for more than a decade, he led the team to two Super Bowls, in 2008 and 2012.

Now Coughlin, 76, is opening up about the most important job he ever had: not his time with the Giants, but in taking care of his late wife, Judy. On Nov. 1, she died after dealing with progressive supranuclear palsy, an incurable brain disorder that deteriorates a person's ability to think, speak and control movement.

In his new memoir, A Giant Win, Coughlin talks about how he dealt with his wife's diagnosis — and what he learned in the years of being her primary caregiver.

"My whole life, I had prided myself on my preparation," he writes in the book. "But nothing prepares you for watching a loved one slip away, and nothing prepared me for this job — the most important job of my life."

"I was completely lost, both emotionally and practically speaking," he continues. "If, say, the air-conditioning broke, or the generator didn't come on during a storm, I had no idea what to do. I'd get frustrated, and in those early days, I'd find myself saying, 'I shouldn't be doing this. I don't belong here.' "

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In his memoir, Coughlin says that he had spent a lifetime developing the virtues of teamwork, perseverance, discipline, scheduling and attention to detail.

"I'd always thought the Super Bowls we won in New York were the culmination of a life lived in service to these values," he writes. "But no — these times with Judy are the culmination. The difference is that unlike those championship seasons, there's no happy ending in sight here. That makes it hard to find the strength every morning to keep going."

"Those values brought me and my team to the top of the mountain in 2007," he continues, referring to the Giants' Super Bowl-winning season. "As life has gone on, those values have gotten even more important."

ELi Manning Greg Hanlon
ELi Manning Greg Hanlon

Courtesy

A Giant Win is co-written by PEOPLE editor Greg Hanlon. Legendary Giants quarterback Eli Manning wrote the foreword.

In the memoir, Coughlin hopes that his story will inspire others who are watching their loved ones battle degenerative diseases.

"By speaking out, I'm hoping to help people," he writes. "There are fifty million Americans just like me. Attention must be paid to what they're going through. There's the emotional impact, of course, but also the financial one."

"I'm aware that very few people have these resources," he writes, "and our government and healthcare system need to do a much better job of helping those people. I hope that by raising awareness, I'll help push things in that direction."

A Giant Win is available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

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