Feeling Blue: Mara Reflects on Manning Decision; Season
With the Giants Organization Facing the Ire of the Manning Decision, Owner John Mara Emerges from the Woodwork to Discuss the State of the Team
It’s been an interesting two days for the New York Giants. It all escalated on Tuesday when news broke that the team was benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. With the amount of fan backlash in regards to treatment of Manning, as well as the poor season, owner John Mara stepped up to the podium on Wednesday afternoon.
Mara’s Part in the Manning Decision
Head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese both caught the full ire of Giants fans, as well as sports analysts. Benching Manning was bound to happen, but the reasoning of “Geno gives the team a better chance to win,” set the football world on fire. Mara deflected the heat off the coach and GM, instead putting it on himself.
“I had mentioned to [Reese] a week or two ago, don’t you think it’s time to start to get a look at these other quarterbacks at some point during these games,” said Mara about a quarterback change. “And he agreed, said he’d already had a conversation with Ben about that.”
Just as McAdoo stated on Tuesday, Mara thought that the veteran quarterback would accept the offer of starting the first half of remaining games. This was to keep Manning’s consecutive start streak alive. Mara soon found out that he decline the offer, indicating that they should start Geno instead this weekend against the Oakland Raiders.
“…Jerry called me and said that Eli had informed Ben that if you’re gonna play Geno in the second half, you may as well just start him. It’s not fair to him, it’s not fair to me,” recalled Mara. “I think that would be the best decision going forward. And he also wanted us to put out a statement announcing that. So that’s what we did.”
However, Mara did not expect the amount of resentment from fans, former Giants players, and analysts towards the decision. Many were expecting the team to go with the rookie, Davis Webb, if Manning were not to start. Once the choice of Smith was made, most of the fan base went into a web-fury.
“It was presented the way Ben thought it ought to be presented,” said Mara. “Could we have done it differently? I guess you argue that we could’ve, yes.”
“I expected there was going to be an emotional reaction from fans. I would say it’s been a little in excess of maybe what I had expected, but given what he has meant to our franchise and to so many people for so long, it’s understandable.”
Mara’s Meeting With Manning
Mara met with Manning on Wednesday morning, as the owner was away, unable to meet him face-to-face. When making a decision like this, Mara is notorious for talking to the player beforehand. Mara made sure to talk with Manning, regardless that it came a day after the much-talked-about news.
“It was a very emotional talk,” Mara said. “And he is obviously not happy with the decision but he understands it. And I told him that, I said my hope here had been that you would continue to play, not only to keep your streak alive but because I was hoping, I didn’t want him to go out like this.”
Despite the perception of the announcement, the Giants’ co-owner did not say it was the end of Eli in New York.
“I don’t think you should be writing his obituary just yet,’’ Mara stated. “A lot of things can change between now and next spring and next season. We obviously have some tough decisions to make at the end of the year and who knows what’s going to happen.”
Mara’s Disappointment in Team
Mara did not just focus on the whole Manning decision. The state of the team was at the top of the list, especially with the high expectations surrounding the team. From Super Bowl hopefuls, to top five draft pick hopefuls. However, don’t tell the Giants head honcho about the thought of tanking the season for draft picks.
“That’s complete b—s—-,” exclaimed Mara. “I would never allow that here. We’re going to try to win the games, we’re just going to have to try to do that with a different guy at quarterback.’’
The Giants’ head coach has been under a lot of scrutiny this season. Between the team’s play on the field to how he conducts his press conferences, McAdoo has caught the ire of many. In regards to McAdoo’s status beyond this season, Mara didn’t give the second-year head coach a vote of confidence.
“We’re 2-9,” Mara said. “I’m embarrassed about that. Nobody’s doing a good job.”
Mara followed that up with a statement that could indicate where he is leaning towards McAdoo’s status.
“There are no guarantees in life,” Mara told Tom Rock of Newsday. “[We] made [our] statement on that a couple of weeks ago, but there’s no guarantees in life.”
While Mara did hint at the waiting until season’s end to make personnel changes, that may change shortly. Giants fans may not feel a sense of shock if the owner grows impatient, and starts making decisions shortly.
With five games remaining, it may feel like an eternity for those in the organization. Those at the Giants facility will certainly be on pins and needles for the next month.
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