In his first preseason game as head coach of the New York Giants, Brian Daboll is heading back to where his NFL journey began: Foxborough.
Daboll jumpstarted his pro coaching career in 2000 as a defensive assistant with the New England Patriots. His journey comes full circle tonight as he'll lead the Giants against the Pats. The symmetry isn't lost on Daboll.
"My wife brought it up to me the last couple of days," he said, via Newsday. "I was like 'Oh yeah, that's pretty cool.' I'd be excited regardless of who we were playing but it's kind of come full circle in 22 years to have my first game against the organization that gave me my first opportunity."
Daboll noted that he remembers all his milestone games, including that first with the Patriots in 2000, when they took on the 49ers in the Hall of Fame Game. He'll add another tonight in his first as a head coach.
"I can't tell you the feeling I'll have stepping on the field for the first time as a head coach," he admitted. "I'm grateful for it. It'll probably hit me at some point. National anthem, warmups, I'm not sure. But I'm trying to do the best job I can and do the things I need to do to be the leader of this team. ... I don't take this lightly. I'm constantly learning and trying to do the best job I can do and trying to be the best leader with the help of a lot of other people. Certainly it will be a special memory to have."
After a winding career that took him from New England to the Jets, Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs, back to New England, to college with Alabama and then the past four years with the Bills, Daboll is ready for a new challenge leading an entire club.
The new phase will begin with fond memories.
"I didn't care about how much I was going to get paid or anything like that, I was just so thankful to be in the NFL," he said of his first job with the Patriots. "I was just happy to be there and contribute and do anything I could. ... Just a young guy starting out and so thankful, thankful to Bill (Belichick) and the Kraft family and their organization for giving the opportunity to me. There are a lot of special memories that my wife and I had there in Foxborough."
The Giants kick off the preseason tonight at 7 p.m. ET against the Patriots. You can watch the action live on NFL Network.
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