Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin's Toughest Role: Spin Doctor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Coughlin's Toughest Role: Spin Doctor

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

It was Tom Coughlin doing the best he could at what he probably hates the most: damage-control news conferences.

The NFL's answer to General Patton is trying to put up a brave front these days because the biggest decimation in Jaguars history is in full swing. And while Coughlin reluctantly takes the sledgehammer to his salary cap-tive roster, he also can't ignore the grumblings of the paying customers.

Maybe that's why during his seven-minute opening statement Monday, which followed the departure of starters Tony Boselli, Gary Walker and Seth Payne to the expansion Houston Texans, a humbled Coughlin twice made references to "our great fans." It was the coach's way of reaching out, OK, begging people to stand by the Jaguars through what figures to be a long 2002 season.

He talked about the "12th-man principle" and "loyalty," a curious choice of words when you consider that one of his most loyal foot soldiers, Boselli, was allowed to walk and join a rival AFC South army.

Not that the Jaguars had much choice, given they had to extract themselves from a $27.7 million cap hole by March 1. With the Texans throwing them a $16-million lifeline, the Jaguars will make it. But this is hardly the end of the cost-cutting.

Five starters are already gone. Count on at least five more leaving, maybe one or two in the next 10 days and others by the start of training camp.

Owner Wayne Weaver has put a big emphasis on stopping all the contract restructuring. So players whose days appear numbered are Aaron Beasley, Hardy Nickerson, Zach Wiegert, Kyle Brady and -- despite vehement pleas by Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith to keep him -- probably Keenan McCardell, too. Releasing those five would clear nearly a combined $24 million from the 2003 books and represent an immediate savings of about $5 million. …

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