He sighed deeply and then couldn’t hide his confusion and hurt.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman can’t wrap his mind around why he might be seen as a detriment who narrows the pool of candidates in the search for the next coach, as sources told The Post.
“I don’t understand the notion that I’m tough to work with,” Gettleman said. “I think it would be from people who don’t know me. Obviously as we move forward in the coaching search, it’s ‘The Dating Game.’ There will be that opportunity for them to look me in the eye and say, ‘Dave, what up?’ “
The real knocks on Gettleman are: He has an earned old-school reputation for anti-analytical data, his free-agency track record is poor, he is on the hot seat with no certainty he will be retained by ownership after the 2020 season, and he overvalues running the ball and stopping the run in a pass-happy NFL.
“That’s part of the conversation,” Gettleman said. “We’ll see.”
The Giants are casting a wide net, seeking interviews with offensive, defensive and special teams assistants around the NFL, former head coaches and likely with college coaches such as Baylor’s Matt Rhule.
Giants ownership explained recommitting to a third season of Gettleman (9-23 in his first two) by pointing to behind-the-scenes changes he implemented to scouting and the commitment to a younger roster. Ownership believes candidates will see a cooperative side of the 68-year-old Gettleman in person.
Others might not see it that way.
“I think that the power of this franchise — this is an iconic franchise — and the stability of this ownership,” Gettleman said, “will allay the fears of any coach that thinks about that.”
Ron Rivera agreed to become the Redskins coach — and deal with meddling owner Daniel Snyder — without interviewing with the Giants. He and Gettleman could’ve reunited after four years together with the Panthers.
“I didn’t fire anybody there,” Gettleman said. “Three years later, we’re in the Super Bowl.”
Like co-owner John Mara did a day before, Gettleman stressed major personnel decisions — he has made a number of them, including trading away Odell Beckham Jr., trading draft picks for Leonard Williams, letting Landon Collins walk away and drafting Daniel Jones — are a team effort, including the coach.
Except Gettleman’s retention suggests he was rewarded for his roster-building while Pat Shurmur was fired despite his development of Jones.
Mara indicated he would be open to a change in the Giants’ longtime organizational structure, giving the right coach a bigger say in the roster. But final say? With the Giants, that always lies with the general manager — unless the changes are bigger than anticipated.
“Whatever is in the best interest of the New York Football Giants, I will do,” Gettleman said. “We are collaborative here.”