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Ray Handley: Wikis


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Ray Handley (born October 8, 1944) is a former American football player and coach who is best remembered for his stormy two seasons as head coach of the National Football League's New York Giants in the early 1990s.


Collegiate career

A native of Reno, Nevada, Handley played three seasons at running back for Stanford University beginning in 1963 . During his junior season, Handley gained 936 yards, with his long ground gains during the November 14, 1964 contest against Oregon State helping upset the Beavers, 16-7. The following year began with talk of potential All-American honors, but ended in disappointment, although Handley's running helped defeat arch-rival California-Berkeley, 9-7, in the season finale on November 21.

Brief professional playing career

Handley was signed by the American Football League's San Diego Chargers on June 11, 1966, but voluntarily left camp one month later, putting an end to his playing career.

Early coaching jobs

The following year, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach, then headed east in 1968 for two years as assistant at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. One of his fellow coaches during this period was Bill Parcells, a connection that would prove fruitful in the future. Following a year out of the game in 1970, Handley returned the following year for the first of four more seasons at Stanford.

In 1975, Handley shifted to coaching another branch of the armed services when he accepted an assistant position at the United States Air Force Academy. In his final year, Parcells served as head coach, but after the latter's departure, Handley once again returned to Stanford, serving five years under both Rod Dowhower and Paul Wiggin.

New York Giants

On February 28, 1984, Handley was named offensive backfield coach of the New York Giants under Parcells, beginning a seven year stretch that saw the team capture two Super Bowls. In 1990, after coming close to leaving coaching to enter George Washington University Law School, Handley was promoted to offensive coordinator. Following the Giants' second title in Super Bowl XXV that season, Parcells announced his retirement, and Handley was then promoted his first head coaching position on May 15, 1991.

George Young picked Handley to serve as head coach of the Giants after then-Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick left to coach the Cleveland Browns. Belichick, who eventually won 3 Super Bowls as the head coach of the New England Patriots has said that not being offered the Giants head coaching job was his most embarrassing career moment.[1]


Head coaching stint

His first major decision of his tenure was who would be the starting quarterback. The previous season, Phil Simms had guided the Giants to an 11-2 record before suffering a leg injury. Backup Jeff Hostetler finished the regular season with an unremarkable 2-1 record as Simms' replacement, but also led the Giants to upset victories against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game and the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl. With Handley in charge of the following training camp, after the resignation of Bill Parcells, he announced that the two quarterbacks would compete for the starting job. This caused some controversy as both fans and commentators felt that Simms shouldn't lose his starting job due to injury. Nonetheless, Hostetler won the battle in training camp and was announced as the starting quarterback. His first game as head coach was a Monday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers (a rematch of the 1990 NFC Championship). Handley's team would win that game, but Handley would be most remembered for wearing an unusually designed logo shirt (bearing the New York Giants colors and logo). The Monday night win earned Handley the adoration of the fans, but as the team would struggle to an 8-8 record and out of the playoff picture, fan support quickly eroded. (One wag held up a sign reading: "From the Super Bowl to the toilet bowl. Thanks, Ray.") In 1992, the team fell further to a 6-10 record, leading a combative Handley to trade verbal darts with both the media and his players. He had a notorious confrontation with WWOR-TV's Russ Salzberg, in which he walked out of the press conference after repeated questions regarding the starting quarterbacks. Before leaving, he was overheard saying to someone off camera "straighten him out", referring to Salzberg. The video clip was replayed constantly over the week by local media outlets and served as an albatross during the rest of his tenure. By the end of the season fans at games would often repeatedly chant, "Ray Must Go", laying the groundwork for his departure at the end of the season.

Post-NFL life

Handley was officially fired on December 30, 1992, and replaced by former Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves. Following his departure, Handley would disappear from the NFL and the public eye. He now resides in the Lake Tahoe, California area.

See also

Preceded by
Bill Parcells
New York Giants Head Coaches
Succeeded by
Dan Reeves


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