It's too bad that Jerry Jones won't be able to stop by the Giants owner's suite and pick Wellington Mara's brain for some advice about turning around a bad situation during Sunday's game. It's not personal. Mara died in 2005 so he doesn't dole out much advice to anyone these days.
If he were still around, and in the mood to be generous with his experience, Mara would likely tell Jones that the first thing he should do is hire a general manager to run the football operations side of the ship. Mara could even go further by assuring Jones that while it might seem difficult to cede that kind of power, it will likely wind up benefitting both his team and his profile in the long run. Mara could do that because he lived through worse than Jones has experienced.
Wellington Mara's father Tim founded the Giants and Wellington went right into the family business. He held various jobs in the organization until taking over the reins of the entire franchise when his father died in 1959. The team went to four championship games in his first five years and then did not make the playoffs one time between 1964 and 1979, which was the year that then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle essentially forced Mara to hire George Young to run the football side of the business because the team had become such an embarrassment on the field.
Mara's inability to put together a team that could win even a modest amount of games rarely gets brought up. That's not an accident.
The Giants talk a lot about ancient history -- Frank Gifford, Sam Huff -- and recent history -- LT, Phil Simms -- but never about that long, dark period in their history that was entirely Mara's doing. Young's success in building a new football operation completely revitalized a dead franchise, while the only thing you hear about Mara is that he's credited with making the current league feasible by entering into revenue sharing and giving up a chance to seriously cash in on the benefits of playing in a market like New York.
Funny how that's happened while Jones and Al Davis, to name the two current owners who follow the old Mara blueprint, are often the butt of jokes even though their franchises have won exactly as many Super Bowls as the Giants since each of them has owned the team. Some might argue that it's merely a matter of personalities, but that doesn't really hold up. While they are much less ostentatious than Double J, the Maras aren't any less arrogant and they haven't gouged their fans any less since opening their new stadium.
What they have done is a better job of public relations because they aren't seen nosing their way into the personnel realm. That insulates them from the vagaries of the weekly ups-and-downs faced by all teams, much the same way the Rooney family was never held responsible for the fact that the Steelers mostly stunk in their first 40 years of existence. When you look at the entire ownership runs, Jones has no reason to be held up as a punchline when compared to either of those families yet he is because there's no way for anyone to play the games that separate him from the cold hard facts of the team on the field.
If Mara was as good a guy as everyone said he was, that's exactly what he'd tell Jones. He's gone, but it is still up to Jones to just sit back and listen.
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