Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 09-03-20

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
In the summer of 1961, John Mara was a ballboy for the Giants in training camp at Fairfield (Ct.) University.

You may refer to that as learning from the ground up, since today he is the president and CEO of the team, son of Wellington Mara, grandson of Tim Mara, nephew of Jack Mara.

He is also partners with Steve Tisch, whose father, Bob, bought 50 percent of the franchise from one of John's cousins, the late Tim Mara Jr., in 1991.

And Thursday, for the first time since January, he agreed to speak (via virtual attendance) to the media.

There were a few take aways from his comments, and through it all he displayed the calm demeanor that has marked his long stay with the team in several capacities.

For instance, he said he is pleased with new head coach Joe Judge and the equally new coaching staff.

"I've been very pleased so far," he said, as always garbed in a suit and tie. "The things that are noticeable to me are the amount of teaching that goes on. It's like nonstop. I like the intensity of the practice, the communication he has with the players on football and non-football issues.

"I've been impressed with the staff he's put together. There's a lot of experience on that staff, and I am confident that we're in a good place right now in terms of trying to get these players to perform at their best. But I'm not going to compare him to anybody else. So far, I like what I see. But we haven't played a game yet. There's a lot left to see. But so far, I think we're in a good place with what they've done with this team."

When Judge was hired to replace Pat Shurmur, who two years earlier replaced Ben McAdoo, Mara was mostly concerned with how the new man would get along with his relatively new general manager, Dave Gettleman, who was part of a small group of executives who approved the hiring in the first place.

"I think the communication between the two of them has been excellent," he said. "I think they are on the same page. When they disagree about something, they talk it out and they come to a conclusion. That's all I can expect from them, that they both are reasonable. They talk it through, and then they come to a decision. At the end of that, it's the New York Giants' decision, it's not either one of theirs."

He responded to another question about social justice. "I would rather see the players stand for the national anthem," he said, "but I will respect their decision no matter what. I'll support any player's right to engage in silent protest. What makes it easy for me to do that is when I see how much work they're doing in the community and how important what is going on in this country right now is to each of them.

"They back it up with actions, not just words. My position now will be the same as it was back then. In terms of the social justice initiative, our players are very engaged in working in a lot of different areas."

The times we live in, which are of course the same times that Mara and the Giants live in, are new and surreal. He agreed. "This is the 60th training camp I've been to in my lifetime, and I've never experienced anything like this before.

"It's a unique set of circumstances. But I'm pleased with the way the players have dealt with it and the communication that's gone on. Obviously, I want to win some games, but I feel good about the direction that we're heading in right now. I want to feel that way in January as well, but I have every reason to expect that I will."

As to the subject of social justice and the ugly events that have left an indelible mark on society, does Mara have any specific feelings?

"One of the things we would like to do is get our players with some of our local political leaders ... the governor, the mayor, maybe the police chief, just to talk about what steps are being taken going forward to affect some sort of change.

"I will tell you this, one of the most memorable team meetings that I've ever been involved with took place right after the George Floyd murder when we had a Zoom call with the players. I listened to them talk about their own experiences growing up and dealing with law enforcement and whatnot. To see the raw emotion that came out of them, guys got very, very emotional talking about it, it was something that really was an eye-opener for me."

As to young starting quarterback Daniel Jones, Mara is optimistic. So far, in other words, he likes what he has seen.

"I feel good about him right now, the amount of work he's put in, the way he's looked at camp. I'd like to see him take the next step this year. I'm confident that he will do that. I know our coaching staff is very high on him right now. Guys who have been around successful quarterbacks in the past think he has what it takes to get us to the next level.

"Every indication so far is that he does have what it takes. Obviously, we want to see him move to the next level. But I think he did a good job last year. Obviously, he had the issue with the turnovers. But he showed a lot of grit and a lot of promise and made a lot of big plays. I think with the right supporting cast around him, I think the sky is the limit for him."

EXTRA POINTS The Giants engineered a minor trade Thursday with the Denver Broncos, swapping their seventh-round draft pick next year for second-year cornerback Isaac Yiadom, 6-0 and 190 from Boston College. ... He had been the Broncos' third-round pick in 2018. ... But the trade won't become official until he passes his COVID-19 test and the usual team physical.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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