PHOENIX — Brian Daboll had to wait almost a quarter-century for his first head-coaching job.
Just one year into it, he was named AP Coach of the Year.
“You don’t think about that when you take a job,” Daboll said at NFL Honors on Thursday night after receiving his prize. “You’re thankful you have an opportunity to lead a team and try to build a culture, and that’s what we tried to do. We had a lot of work to do. Still have a lot of work to do.
“I just think it’s a testament to the coaches, players, the people in the building from ownership down. That’s why I am here because of all those other people.”
Daboll led the Giants to a 9-7-1 record and a playoff win to become the team’s first head coach to win the award since Jim Fassel in 1997. The only other coaches to win with the Giants were Allie Sherman in 1961 and 1962, Bill Parcells in 1986 and Dan Reeves in 1993; Parcells and Reeves both won it a second time with other teams.
Daboll received 16 first-place votes and edged 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who got 12, in overall voting (123-100). It was the closest race of all the 2022 AP NFL awards.
Buffalo’s Sean McDermott (seven), Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni (six), Jacksonville’s Doug Pederson (five), Kansas City’s Andy Reid (two), Minnesota’s Kevin O’Connell (one) and Detroit’s Dan Campbell (one) also received first-place votes. Pederson finished third overall, McDermott fourth and Sirianni fifth.
In other prominent awards, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was named MVP, Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson got Offensive Player of the Year and 49ers end Nick Bosa was named Defensive Player of the Year. The only other Giant who was a finalist for an award was running back Saquon Barkley, who was up for Comeback Player of the Year. That honor went to Seattle quarterback Geno Smith.
Daboll had coached for seven different NFL teams and one year in college before being hired by the Giants in January 2022.
“There was a lot of good, there was a lot of hardship,” he said. “I’m just thankful to be where my feet are right now. I’m just a piece. There are a lot of great people in our building. A lot of those people deserve an award a lot more than me.”
One of the main reasons Daboll won was because the Giants were seen as overachievers, a description Daboll has cringed at throughout the season.
“It was a special year,” he said. “You wish you could continue to play. Expectation-wise, you just come in and work hard. We’re going to have to redo it starting now and build a new team for the 2023 season.”
After being presented his award, Daboll went backstage and had a chance to meet with one of his former Bills players. Safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac episode on the field on Jan. 2, made an emotional appearance at NFL Honors.
“I was coming here to talk to you [at the news conference] and got to see him in the back,” Daboll said. “That was a special moment. I said, ‘Hey man, love you buddy, proud of you and glad you are doing OK.’ ”
Daboll spent the week in Phoenix with his family. “I’d rather be playing down here,” he said.
As for Super Bowl LVII, Daboll didn’t have a prediction. “I’m gonna sit back, eat a tray full of nachos, drink a six pack, and then I’ll start my diet,” he said. “I’m just going to watch it as a fan.”