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Wellington Mara
Date of birth August 14, 1916(1916-08-14)
Place of birth Rochester, New York
Date of death October 25, 2005 (aged 89)
Position(s) Owner
Administrator
College Fordham
Championships
      won
1986 Super Bowl XXI
1990 Super Bowl XXV
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1959-2005 New York Giants
Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1997

Wellington Timothy Mara (August 14, 1916–October 25, 2005) was the co-owner of the NFL's New York Giants from 1959 until his death and one of the most influential and iconic figures in the history of the National Football League. He was the younger son of Tim Mara, who founded the Giants in 1925 and which Wellington was a ball boy for that year. Wellington Mara was an alumnus of the Jesuit schools, Loyola School and Fordham University in New York City.

Contents

Biography

In 1930, Tim Mara split his ownership interests between Wellington (then 14) and his older brother Jack. Soon after graduating from Fordham University, Wellington moved into the Giants' front office. He served as Assistant to the President and Treasurer, 1937; Secretary, 1938–1940; Vice-President and Secretary, 1945–1958; Vice-President, 1959–1965; President, 1966–1990; President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, 1991–2005. For his first 28 years in the organization, he handled the franchise's football decisions.

During the early 1960s, Wellington and his brother Jack, the owners of the NFL's largest market, agreed to share television revenue on a league-wide basis, dividing the amounts of money available in cities like New York with smaller market teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. That concept of revenue sharing allowed the NFL to grow and is still being used today. This is certainly Mara's lasting contribution to his game.

Under Mara's direction the New York Football Giants won six NFL titles (including two Super Bowl wins), nine conference championships (including six Eastern Conference championships in the days before the NFL-AFL merger and three NFC championships post-merger), and thirteen division championships. A seventh NFL title, third Super Bowl victory, fourth NFC championship (tenth conference championship overall), and fourteenth division title have been captured since his passing under the leadership of his son, John, and co-owner Steve Tisch (who in turn is the son of Wellington's former co-owner from 1991–2005, Bob Tisch).

The Giants have also accumulated the third highest number of victories in National Football League history. Mara was also well liked by the Giants' players, and was known to stick by them even when they struggled with off-the-field problems. When Lawrence Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 he credited Mara for supporting him even during the worst times of his drug addiction saying, "He probably cared more about me as a person than he really should have."[1] Taylor has since lived a clean life style and credits Mara with helping him fight his addiction.[2]

The grave of Wellington Mara in Gate of Heaven Cemetery

He had surgery in May 2005 to remove cancerous lymph nodes from his neck and under his armpit, but was initially given a good prognosis by his doctors who said the cancer had not metastasized, according to his son, John Mara, who is the Giants' co-chief executive officer.

The Wilson football used in NFL games prior to the AFL merger (1941–69) was nicknamed "THE DUKE" after Mara. For the 2006 season and beyond, a new version of "THE DUKE" will be used in NFL games.

He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

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Outside of football

Besides his contributions to football, Mara was known for being a devout Roman Catholic who attended the traditional Tridentine Mass on Sundays, went to Mass daily, and was a champion of Pro-Life causes. He also served as a Lieutenant Commander during World War II for the Navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific. That period during the war would be Mara's only prolonged time away from the Giants.

He has been nominated to the NJ Hall Of Fame for 2010.

Death

Wellington Mara succumbed to lymphoma later that year at age 89. He was interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, after his funeral at New York's Saint Patrick's Cathedral. He is survived by his wife, Ann, 11 children, and 40 grandchildren. His team honored him after his death by defeating the team he always viewed as the Giants' biggest (and oldest) rival, the Washington Redskins, 36–0 at Giants Stadium. The 80,000 fans in attendance gave his mention a standing ovation.

  • In a rare response to a sportswriter, frustrated with poor performance from the also-ran Giants of the 1970s, asking, "What can you expect from an Irishman named Wellington, whose father was a bookmaker?" Mara later said:
"I'll tell you what you can expect—you can expect anything he says or writes may be repeated aloud in your own home in front of your own children. You can believe that he was taught to love and respect all mankind, but to fear no man. And you could believe that his abiding ambitions were to pass onto his family the true richness of the inheritance he received from his father, the bookmaker: the knowledge and love and fear of God and second to give you (our fans and our coach) a Super Bowl winner"

See also

References

  1. ^ sportsillustrated.cnn.com, Five for the ages: Pro Football Hall of Fame inducts five more members, accessed February 17, 2007
  2. ^ Dave Anderson, PRO FOOTBALL; Losing Himself to Find Himself, New York Times, November 28, 2003, accessed April 4, 2008

Sources

External links


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