Famed Coach: Caring for My Ailing Wife Is a Privilege

Tom Coughlin says he's merely fulfilling the promise he made 54 years ago to Judy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2021 4:47 PM CDT
Famed Coach Writes of His Biggest Challenge Yet
Tom Coughlin, in a 2019 file photo.   (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The name Tom Coughlin is familiar to football fans given his two Super Bowl rings as a coach, but a new Coughlin essay in the New York Times has nothing to do with the game. Instead, he writes a poignant account of caring for his wife, Judy, who is suffering from a degenerative brain disorder known as progressive supranuclear palsy. "For the past four years, we’ve helplessly watched her go from a gracious woman with a gift for conversation, hugging all the people she met and making them feel they were the most important person in the room, to losing almost all ability to speak and move," he writes. Caring for Judy now consumes almost all of Coughlin's time, but he makes clear that he's not looking for pity, only sharing his story in the hope it might help other caregivers.

The essay culminates with Coughlin making a point that ties together his years as a coach with this new challenge:

  • "Taking care of Judy is a promise I made 54 years ago when she was crazy enough to say 'I do.' I do want the players I coached in college and in the N.F.L. who thought all my crazy ideas about discipline, commitment and accountability ended when they left the field to know that is not the case. The truth is that is when those qualities matter most. A friend said we don’t get to choose our sunset, and that’s true, but I am so blessed to get to hold Judy’s hand through hers."
(Read the full essay.)

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