The XFL is Kevin Gilbride's chance to redeem the Giants


Kevin Gilbride strolls off the pebble-green lawn at Superdome Sports in Waldwick, New Jersey, and hands the practice field over to a group of young girls who are coming to lacrosse training this December afternoon.

To his right is a row of yellow field goal posts taped to an inflated wall. Above him in the same building is a ballet studio and, strangely, called "Music For Aardvarks". About 25 minutes down Route 17 is the MetLife Stadium, Gilbride's former home to the Giants.

Gilbride may be close to his ex-team, but he's a virtual world far from the heights of the NFL.

After leaving New York six years ago, the 68-year-old returned to coaching with the New York Guardians of the XFL and agreed in August to become their head coach and general manager. He returns to MetLife this weekend, where the Guardians will play their home games in East Rutherford for the revised XFL opening season.

"I think it was a lot of things," said Gilbride about this return to football. "I jokingly said that my oldest granddaughter started to end my stories. I knew I had to either write new stories or win a new audience. "

Gilbride remained busy during his retirement.

The former Giants coach spent his time between Florida and Rhode Island, where his daughters Kelly and Kristen (along with his grandchildren) live. Gilbride spent time with his five beloved grandchildren (15, 11, 9, 3 and 1 years), rummaged through his large book collection and enjoyed some fishing days on his boat.

Practically every night ended the same way. Gilbride and Deborah, his 45-year-old wife, watched the Wheel of Fortune at 7pm for dinner.

"If we really had a long dinner, it was about" Jeopardy! "" Said Deborah.

Gilbride made up for lost time during this time, met again with old friends and fully integrated back into family life after living in a hotel for the past five years as Giants.

Deborah calls her grandchildren "the sparkle in our eyes", but Gilbride has never strayed too far from his other love.

Kevin Gilbride XFL New York Guardians
Gilbride was never too far from football during his retirement.Courtesy of the New York Guardians

He maintained a constant film diet by contributing to NBC's preparations for Sunday Night Football and paying attention to X and O (his son Kevin was also a coach at the Giants and the Bears during this time).

This kind of work was enough to keep Gilbride up to date on the game and its latest developments, now with its eighth professional football franchise. But it was far from enough to stimulate his coaching appetite.

"When you're at home watching football, sitting and putting another piece of popcorn in your mouth, watch everyone else, but you miss the players, the camaraderie," Guardians, coach Jerald Ingram, told The Post.

"You are always [saying] As a trainer, I can do that better. I know that I can do better as a coach. "

Gilbride undoubtedly loves football – after initially diagnosing cancer in 1992, he initially refused to get rid of sports and also acted as the Oilers' offensive coordinator.

But what he really loves – what he missed during his retirement – led a group of young men. Analyzing games from home could never replicate the human element of class.

"I have to tell Cris Collinsworth what's going on – it's nice, it's fun," he said. "But it's not the same as coaching."

Gilbride's return to coaching goes far beyond recent history.

Sure, he hasn't forgotten that he has to live in a "one room residence inn" and has to pass months without seeing his grandchildren. The Guardian's job is cheap – he's close to his family in Rhode Island and Connecticut – but it's not just convenience that brings him back to sport all day.

The former Giants quarterback coach and offensive coordinator (2004-13), who also led elite crimes in the Oilers and Jaguars, had only one chance in his career to lead a team.

Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin
Eli Manning and his replacement quarterback Jared Lorenzen talk to Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin in 2006.Getty Images

From 1997 to 1998, he was handed over to the Chargers for a short period of time, but the tenure included only 22 games and brought six wins. He told the post office that it was "a mess".

Gilbride thought that after his second Giants Super Bowl win in 2012, he would finally be offered a new head coaching job, but this offer never came and he was forced out of the franchise after the 2013 season, The Post reported to the Time. Now the XFL gives him the opportunity to build a team.

"It's not the NFL," he said. "But you have the opportunity to emboss all parts of it."

Gilbride was a kind of chameleon in his coaching career. Known for passing attacks in Jacksonville and Houston, he formulated a more balanced offense against Tom Coughlin's direction in New York.

Even with the stars Plaxico Burress, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, the Giants were not too far from the racing game on the way to their two Super Bowls with Coughlin.

That was more Coughlin's identity than Gilbrides. From 1990 to 1996 Gilbride led the NFL number 1 four times – three times with the Oilers and once with the Jaguars. He's never done the same with the Super Bowl winners.

Now Gilbride has another chance to win and lose on his own terms.

"We'll try to do some things you wouldn't see with the giants," he said.

It's an obvious irony that Gilbride will continue his coaching career at MetLife, where he has some of his greatest coaching achievements, but also that he will leave the NFL without further ado.

Over time, fans who called him "Kevin Killdrive" may have appreciated his contributions. He even says he's now getting calls from people telling him about new praise in the area.

"People had these nicknames for him all the time," former giant Brandon Jacobs told the Post. "You were outside the building. They were outside the walls. "

This is the dichotomy that surrounded Gilbride during much of his Giants career: it was admired by many key characters and slandered by many home fans.

Kevin Gilbride Marc Trestman
Gilbride talks to former Bears head coach Marc Trestman, his colleague at XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers.Courtesy of the New York Guardians

Tom Brady was one of those admirers. Back at the old Giants Stadium in 2007, Brady Gilbride nagged.

The Patriots had just defeated the Giants in a 38:35 thriller at week 17 to consolidate their regular perfect 16-0 season. But Brady wasn't so keen to celebrate after the game, but tried to learn about Gilbride, who was leading the Giants' offensive in his first season at the time.

"What was that piece you ran?" Recalls Ingram, who coached the Giants from 2004 to 2013. "It was kind of neat."

The exchange in which Gilbride refused to give Brady anything is an apt representation of Gilbride's stature within the sport. Guardian's defense coordinator Jim Hermann, who was the Giants' linebacker coach in 2009-15, is with Brady.

"The real people who know the soccer game … I think it's probably very much appreciated."

Kevin Gilbride New York Guardians practice
Gilbride (third from right) watches the Guardians exercise on December 9th.Jake Nisse

As Gilbride floated through the guards' practice in a black hoodie and black tracksuits, he found himself at home in the head coaching role he had been looking for for so long. He didn't say too much during the session and often allowed his coaches to do micromanagement while chewing on gum. Nevertheless, he made his presence felt and heard the voice when it was necessary.

Gilbride's CV speaks for itself. A professional coaching career that started in 1985 produced two Super Bowls and numerous productive offenses.

Nevertheless, there have been doubts and critics, especially at his last stop. Gilbride has decided to retest in the shadow of his previous employer.

"He will remember [his exit from New York]"Said Jacobs." He was told there was nothing he could do. "