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Giants make Coughlin one of NFL's highest-paid coaches

Tom Coughlin cashed in on the New York Giants' improbable run to a Super Bowl title, signing a four-year, $21 million contract that will make him one of the NFL's highest-paid coaches.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin cashed in on the New York Giants' improbable run to a Super Bowl title, signing a four-year, $21 million contract that will make him one of the NFL's highest-paid coaches.

"Tom Coughlin has done a great job for us and we think this contract recognizes his outstanding achievements here," Giants president and chief executive John Mara said Saturday. "This is a message to him and to our fans that we want him to be our coach for many years to come."

The 61-year-old coach will earn about $5.25 million annually, a $2 million increase over last season and what he was to have earned this year. Seattle's Mike Holmgren is the NFL's top-paid coach at $8 million a year.

"For Tom Coughlin, 'coach' is not just a title, it's a responsibility," said Steve Tisch, the team's chairman and executive vice president. "He took a group of football players and molded them into the best team in the world. We are honored he will lead the New York Giants for many more years and know that the team and its fans are better for his amazing contributions."

Coughlin had been on the verge of being fired after the Giants went 8-8 in 2006 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

The Giants (14-6) and Coughlin both staged remarkable turnarounds, capped by a 17-14 win over previously unbeaten New England in the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Coughlin said that becoming the Giants' coach in 2004 was "the fulfillment of a dream of a lifetime."

"And now to be able to continue in that capacity with this organization, with this leadership, with this football team and with my coaching staff in place is something my family and I are extremely excited about," Coughlin said.

Coughlin was an assistant coach on Bill Parcells' staff when the Giants won the Super Bowl in 1991. He left to coach Boston College and eventually took the head job with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin has a 103-89 record in 12 NFL seasons, including a 35-29 mark in four seasons with New York.

Gary O'Hagan, Coughlin's agent, said Saturday the deal included a "great" incentive package but would not elaborate. He said this may not be Coughlin's last contract.

"I think Tom is in great shape physically and takes great care of himself," O'Hagan said. "I don't think (65) is a magic number for him. In the corporate world it's a magic number for retirement. I don't think he sees it as the end of the line."

Veteran punter Jeff Feagles said Coughlin is deserving.

"We know what we'll be getting with Tom, and that makes a difference to a player," said Feagles, who signed a two-year contract Feb. 12. "You bring somebody else in, you never know if they're going to change your routine. But we all know how structured Tom is. And now we all know he'll be around for a few more years."

Once an unyielding disciplinarian, Coughlin became a kinder, gentler coach. He still demanded perfection, but he was wise enough to enlist a core of veterans to get his message across.

That helped after the Giants were routed by Dallas and Green Bay in their first two games. The two blowouts had some fans screaming for Coughlin's dismissal, and many felt this was going to be a long year for the Giants.

Coughlin went to his leadership council, and told them there was no other group that he would rather be coaching.

The message got to the players and the Giants went on a six-game winning streak, starting with a victory over the Washington Redskins that was preserved by a late goal-line stand by a defense that gave up 80 points in the first two weeks of the season.

New York clinched a playoff berth by rallying to beat Buffalo in the next-to-last week. The last week of the regular season and the playoffs were magical.

Against the Patriots, New York played an inspired game behind Eli Manning and opened a 12-point second-half lead against Tom Brady & Co. before losing 38-35.

The performance gave the Giants confidence entering the playoffs. They beat Tampa Bay in the wild-card game, avenged two earlier losses to the NFC East champion Cowboys in the conference semifinal and then got back at Brett Favre and the Packers in overtime on a frigid day in Green Bay, earning their fourth Super Bowl trip.

A 12-point underdog in the title game, the Giants battered Brady and got a late TD pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress to win their third Super Bowl.

"I am looking forward to working with Tom for the next four years and beyond," general manager Jerry Reese said. "Our players feed off his energy, and his dedication to winning is unprecedented."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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