A 2x Super Bowl-Winning NFL Coach On How Coming Together Makes Us Better

By Tom Coughlin

Credit: Jenn Hopkins for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation

I firmly believe you cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. Whether a football team comes together to win a game or a community comes together to help one of its own, coming together in unity of purpose makes us stronger. It makes us better.

The concept of giving back is at the heart of the word team. To be a successful team, you must be accountable to each other. When I was coaching at Boston College, I saw this firsthand as I, along with my team, witnessed one strong Irish Catholic family go through the unthinkable — losing their son to cancer. That young man was Jay McGillis. He was a humble young man, loved by all, extremely hard-working, an overachiever, whose illness brought a community together, and in so doing, showed the best in humanity.

Jay and the McGillis family inspired me and my family to start the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation as a tribute to Jay’s life and legacy. Our mission is simple: to BE THERE for families so they can be there for their sick child. We provide financial support for household expenses — mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, groceries — all things a family stresses over because their child is sick in the hospital. The Jay Fund has helped over 4,000 families tackling childhood cancer and granted over $7 million to families in need since 1996. We also provide emotional and practical support. This can mean sending patients and their families to concerts or sporting events, special time away for healing for mom and dad, or just offering an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on.

Credit: Jenn Hopkins for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation

Throughout my career, I’ve been amazed how players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants have stepped up to visit pediatric cancer patients at hospitals, take time off from training to talk, support, and encourage these young kids and their parents at our annual Sundae Blitz gatherings at the Giants training facility, and participate in our fundraising efforts so the Jay Fund can truly BE THERE for families when they need it most. They don’t have to do it. They want to do it. It is one of the truest examples of accountability put into action.

I hope I lead by example. Leadership, today, is about serving others. True leaders are motivated by a loving, caring concern more than a desire for personal glory. It is not about ME, it is about US…it is about WE, it’s about TEAM. Our lives are defined and measured by what we give; how we impact the lives of others; and how close we get to that perfect day.

Tom Coughlin is the executive vice president for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin most recently served as the head coach for the New York Giants, where he led the Giants to victory in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI.