Four hours before millions of football fans and casual observers watched Billie Jean King flip the coin and the Rams kick off to the Bengals in Los Angeles, caretakers around the country got a moment of airtime on one of TV’s biggest days.
During its extensive pregame coverage of the 2022 Super Bowl, NBC dedicated a few minutes to the story of Tom Coughlin, a former NFL coach, and his wife of almost 55 years, Judy Coughlin, who has a rare form of dementia called progressive supranuclear palsy.
In the first few seconds of the brief spot, the camera lingers on Tom Coughlin’s two Super Bowl rings he won as head coach of the New York Giants. He says he only wears those rings on special occasions, but he’s much more committed to wearing his wedding ring.
“That stays on,” he says. “It’s been there a long time.”
The video heavily features the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. Tom Coughlin serves as president of the Jacksonville-based charity, founded in 1996 in honor of a football player he coached at Boston University who died of leukemia. The organization, which lists Judy Coughlin as an honorary board member, was originally established to support the families of children with cancer.
Judy Coughlin’s diagnosis came in 2020, after the Jacksonville Jaguars fired Tom Coughlin from his position as a team executive. He announced his wife’s condition and his status as her caregiver in an op-ed for the New York Times in the summer of 2021.
“Someone recently asked me why my wife, Judy, isn’t in any of the photos from our Jay Fund Foundation events, and it was with a heavy heart that I had to explain,” reads the opening line of the piece.
The video contains about 20 seconds of footage of Tom Coughlin preparing a breakfast smoothie for his wife alone in their kitchen at 6 a.m., giving viewers a glimpse into the daily life of a caregiver.
“Tom wants all caregivers to know a simple message,” a narrator says later in the video. “That they are not alone.”
Tom wants all caregivers to know a simple message… That they are not alone.”
“The idea of being a caregiver is a very, very difficult thing,” follows Tom Coughlin. “It’s mentally and physically exhausting. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Can I have a little help?’”
AdWeek reports almost 100 million people watched the Super Bowl over the air on NBC. However, the video aired hours before kickoff during NBC’s pregame coverage. Ratings for that coverage are not yet available, but the Super Bowl pregame show on NBC four years ago brought in more than 11 million viewers, according to SportsMediaWatch. While the actual number may be hard to pin down, it’s certain that millions of Americans saw Tom Coughlin’s tribute to caregivers and brief glimpse into his own daily routine as his wife’s caregiver. The video is also available on both NBC Sports’ and the Jay Fund’s YouTube pages, where it has more than 15,000 combined views.