Former Giants’ coach Jim Fassel recalls the day the Towers fell

New York Giants coach Jim Fassell speaks to the media at training camp Friday, July 21, 2000, in Albany , N.Y. (AP Photo/Dave Oxford)
(Jim Fassel photo courtesy of N.Y. Giants)

Talk of Fame Network

In one of the most moving interviews the Talk of Fame Network has conducted, former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel this week recalls the raw emotions he felt on 9/11, when two jetliners were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers in Manhattan — bringing down the massive skyscrapers and forever changing how America viewed terrorism.

As the NFL kicks off its opening weekend, Sunday is the 15th  anniversary of that date, a moment Fassel watched unfold from the top of Giants Stadium.  Later he was asked by then New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to come to Ground Zero to shake hands with first responders digging out of a mountain of rubble.

“They looked like they’d never slept,’’ Fassel recalled. “There was a gaping hold. Huge. Unbelievable.’’

Fassel recalls the Giants’ plane landing at Newark International Airport after a Monday-night game in Denver only hours before ill-fated Flight 93 would take off from the same spot and, most of all, the memory of a former high-school classmate who piloted the plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

Fassel helped regroup the Giants to return to football two weeks later in Kansas City and become part of the fabric that rebuilt New York in a time of sadness and distress. This is not your usual football interview.


(Rick Spielman photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

In a more traditional note, Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman visits our hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge, to discuss the loss of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a devastating knee injury and how he engineered the trade to acquire former overall No. 1 pick Sam Bradford to stabilize his still reeling offense.

“You have to understand we didn’t have time to haggle,’’ Spielman said of trading first-and fourth-round picks to the Eagles for Bradford. “We had to do something. You can’t stand pat. We knew we were going to have to pay a premium.’’

Spielman recalls how the trade came to be and why Bradford’s two-year contract was a critical component in making it.

Kansas City owner and CEO Clark Hunt also stops by to give us the latest on the Chiefs and recall his days as the child of Lamar Hunt, watching his father … and his fathers football team … win Super Bowl IV.

You can hear the full two-hour show on 80 radio stations on the SB Nation Network, by downloading our podcast at iTunes or by going to the TuneIn app. You can also hear the show and visit our archives on our website,

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  1. Rasputin
    September 9, 2016

    I remember George Teague carrying out the American flag as he led the Cowboys out for that first game after 9/11. The NFL was unapologetically embracing patriotism as a unifying force. It was dramatic and inspirational. Now, just 15 years later, the NFL is allowing anti-American scumbags to hop onto a faddish bandwagon of disrespecting the flag and mocking police officers in response to half baked propaganda, using the league as a venue for dividing Americans racially and politically. How quickly people forget. Disappointing.

    • September 10, 2016

      Its worse than disappointing. Now theyre threatening to fine players who wear red, white and blue shoes Sunday to salute the first responders and the fallen of 9/11. I understand theres a uniform code, but we have … on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 … a chance to celebrate the bravest and proudest who served that day. And we have players who want to do it. Its an extraordinary day, and league rules should be waived for a one-time event. Instead, the NFL turns a deaf ear to common sense, and, after the Brady fiasco, why should anyone be surprised?

      • Rasputin
        September 11, 2016

        That’s incredible. So they claim “freedom of expression” when allowing players to disrespect the flag and country, but crack down on preventing players from honoring first responders on 9/11 or the Cowboys from wearing decals showing support for police in the wake of the Dallas shooting. I guess Goodell is showing where he stands.

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