With Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese’s employment with the New York Giants officially terminated, principal owner John Mara became the first within the organization to publicly comment on the day’s transactions with a Monday afternoon press conference at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
The normally reserved Mara has had to emerge several times this season, whether in person or via team statement, to do damage control for the Giants’ disastrous 2-10 season, a season that has brought back painful memories of the 1970’s Giants, who earned just two winning seasons in their decade. Several weeks prior, Mara, along with co-owner Steve Tisch, released a statement announcing that no in-season firings would be made, apparently opting to wait until the offseason for any potential changes.
Emerging in person to explains these latest moves, however, an “embarrassed” Mara decided there were no benefits in prolonging the inevitable.
“Me and Steve Tisch agreed that wholesale changes needed to be made to this organization,” Mara said in his opening statement. “2-10, there’s no defense for that, particuarly when expectations were so high. I understand that we had a ridiculous number of injuries…but we still started out 0-5 with a healthy roster until the fifth game when all the receivers got hurt. So, yeah, I’m embarrassed about that.”
Held in Quest’s spacious auditorium, the conference featured a somber Mara asking the public to not blame the departed Reese and McAdoo for the infamous handling of the Eli Manning situation. McAdoo and Reese were lampooned relentlessly by fans, media, and ex-Giants for the monumental move to start Geno Smith in Sunday’s 24-17 loss in Oakland. Snapped in the process was beloved franchise face Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive starts, incurring the wrath of the Big Blue faithful.
“Obviously, the public reaction (to the Manning decision) was not pleasant, but that really didn’t have any effect on the decision,” Mara said with a slight laugh before later adding his regrets when it came to the Manning choice.
“I initially singed off on the plan (to start Manning in the first half),” Mara explained. “My hope had been to talk to (McAdoo) to try and have a little more flexibility with it, try not to have a hard, fast time that he was going to come out of the game. But by then, Eli had rightfully rejected the notion of starting the half and coming out.”
The owner admitted again he signed off on the plan to split halves between Manning and Smith, but said likewise stated he hoped Manning would play so well in the Oakland first half that it would be “impossible” to take him out. He had the power to veto the move, but chose not to use it.
Mara likewise insisted that the Manning decision, or any one event for that matter, played a role in the firings, insisting it was part of a process. He wouldn’t confirm or deny that Manning would start on Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys, leaving the decision to interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants’ defensive coordinator.
Dealing with the immediate aftermath of the oustings, Mara praised the professionalism of the departed Giants decision-makers.
“Both of these men, contrary to what their public persona is sometimes, have been complete professionals,” Mara praised. “They always make decisions looking at what they believe is in the best long-term interest in the franchise. They never complain about anything, they don’t politic around the office, they communicate well with one another. That’s something I’m very grateful for.”
Mara defended the much maligned McAdoo the best he could, praising the apparent progress made during the team’s 11-5 campaign last season. At 27 games, McAdoo’s Giants tenure is the shortest in the Super Bowl era.
“I think he’s going to learn from his experience here and over time go on to become a successful head coach,” Mara said. “For most of the season, with the exception of a couple of games that I can think of, I thought guys played hard.”
Particularly hard on Mara was the exit interview with Reese, who had with the organization since 1994. Entering the league as a Giants scout, Reese earned the general manager job in 2007, coinciding with the team’s victory in Super Bowl XLII, the team’s first championship in 17 years. Reese would hoist the Lombardi Trophy once more, as his squad likewise took Super Bowl XLVI, both wins coming against the mighty New England Patriots.
“(The Reese meeting) was as difficult a meeting as I’ve ever had,” Mara recalled. “Jerry’s been here since 1994. He was homegrown, started out as a part-time scout and rose all the way through the ranks to become our general manager of two Super Bowl teams. I thanked him on behalf of Steve and myself for everything he’s done for this organization and told him that I have no doubt that he’ll get another shot with another franchise and that in some point in time I’ll be answering questions with people about why I got rid of him in the first place.”
With Reese and McAdoo now ghosts of Giants past, Mara was pressed about the ghosts of Giants future, namely about the process of selecting new coach and general manager. Spagnuolo, previously a head coach with the St. Louis Rams, will take over these final four games and will be considered for the full time position. Kevin Abrams, the Giants’ assistant general manger who was named the interim full time man in Reese’s absence, will likewise have an option to insert his name into the full-time conversation.
Already having gone through one massive overhaul today, Mara hinted another could swiftly be on its way.
Though he wouldn’t disclose, Mara has several names in mind for the spot. He also confirmed that he has invited former general manager Ernie Accorsi, currently in a special advisor role with the Detroit Lions, to serve as a consultant in the process, which could be completed before the season is over.
Already having gone through one massive overhaul today, Mara hinted, through his conference, another could swiftly be on its way.