Kevin Gilbride On WFAN: XFL Gave Me Opportunity To Continue Doing What I Love


New York Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride was once settled with retirement life. 

Gilbride last coached football in 2013, when he served as an offensive coordinator with the NFL's New York Giants. He initially retired from football following the Giants' 2013 season and turned down various coaching opportunities in the years that followed. At first, Gilbride even turned down an opportunity with the Guardians and the XFL.

That was until he came around to the idea of leading the Guardians and a less strenuous schedule. 

"Selfishly as much as I love football, I did not want to give up my offseason time the way I would have had to if I stayed in the NFL," Gilbride told WFAN's Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray. "Even though I had many opportunities since I retired, every time I've said no.

"Initially I even said no here (in the XFL)," Gilbride continued. "But when they told me I could do the offseason where I could still see my grandchildren, do all my film evaluation there and do all my meetings and bring the staff to me I said, 'this gives me an opportunity to get back to something I love to do and yet still in the offseason spend the time I feel like I need to spend with my grandchildren.' When you're raising your own family, they want to eat;  they want a roof over their head. You do whatever anybody asks you to do. I don't have to do that now so this gave me the chance to come back."

On Sunday, the Guardians won their first game of the season. Quarterback Matt McGloin threw for 182 yards, adding two touchdowns, as the Guardians defeated Tampa Bay 23-3 in their XFL debut. The Guardians' defense forced Vipers' quarterback Aaron Murray to throw two interceptions. New York (1-0) sits atop of the East Division in a three-way tie for first place, which leaves Gilbride a lot to be "proud of the toughness they showed."

The XFL received plenty of positive feedback from football fans that were unaccustomed to the unique style of in-game sideline interviews and coaches calling their plays on television. The first week of the XFL provided fans with an unlimited amount of access, which has been rarely available during game days throughout the year. 

Gilbride calls the XFL "as different as you can possibly imagine," but isn't keen on live microphones catching which plays are being called on the field.

"It is very uncomfortable for coaches, I can assure you that," Gilbride said. "There's not one coach who's happy with it, but we knew the deal going in and the deal was that our broadcast partners were going to have accessibility to us that they don't have in the NFL that the fans would be able to get a peek behind the curtain so to speak.

"What they promised us is that there is a delay from when we call the play and when it actually surfaces on the television screen," Gilbride added. "Otherwise defensive coordinators can just sit there and listen to the call and then make their defensive call which wouldn't be fair at all. We're trusting they're doing it the right way and I'm sure fans are just relishing the fact that they can hear the things that they've never had the opportunity to hear before."

QB1⃣ put on a show in our season opener! --#OnDuty | #ForTheLoveOfFootball

— New York Guardians (@XFLGuardians) February 10, 2020

Sunday's win was an entirely different experience for Gilbride, who spent nearly a decade with the Giants. He wasn't the one tasked with talking to McGloin and primarily calling the plays. 

"That can be a challenge for me so if you saw blood coming down my chin, it was because I was biting my tongue a few times," Gilbride said. I had chosen to let some of the other guys do the play calling and I thought they did a good job ... It's just a great feeling to come away after all the hard work in the offseason and the training camp and everything else."

Click the audio player to listen to Gilbride's interview in its entirety