New York Giants: John Mara

John Mara does ice bucket challenge

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants president and CEO John Mara accepted an ice bucket challenge on behalf of ALS research, and wide receiver Victor Cruz did the honors, pouring a bucket of freezing cold ice water all over his boss outside the team’s practice facility.

Cruz had nominated Mara to take the challenge after doing so himself on Sunday.

It is for a good cause, in an effort to raise money and awareness in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The challenge has gone viral on social media. You can read more about it here.
CANTON, Ohio -- A large New York Giants contingent is on hand Saturday for the enshrinement of former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The leader of that contingent is Giants owner John Mara, who remembers Strahan as a Hall of Fame practice performer.

"That's a once-in-a-lifetime guy, a guy that makes other people better," Mara said on his way into the ceremony at Fawcett Stadium. "And you'd just watch him practice, going up and talking to different players. He was always encouraging guys, but he'd also get on guys if he felt they were slacking off and not doing their jobs. And that's one thing I always appreciated."

Strahan said Friday that he doesn't get to East Rutherford, New Jersey, as often as he likes to, but he will show up periodically throughout the season to talk to Giants players. There are only three remaining Giants who played with Strahan, but it's not hard for him to get everyone's attention.

"He has a huge impact when he comes in, because he's got the credibility because they know he was such a great player," Mara said. "And what was great about him, I've said this a million times, is that he practiced just as hard as he played, and he set such a great example. So that type of influence is what you want.

"We're very proud to be here to support him."
Chris SneeJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesChris Snee retires after 10 seasons and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Offensive linemen don't get stats. They don't gain yards or score touchdowns or sack quarterbacks. Check out Chris Snee's page on right here and, well, you don't see a whole lot of information. But Snee makes a strong case as the best offensive lineman in New York Giants history. And on the occasion of his retirement Monday after 10 seasons, four Pro Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants, it was clear that his legacy would live large in the memories of those who watched him up close.

"Strength, power, mental toughness, work ethic, the way he approached the game ... he had everything you want," former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl said in a phone interview Monday. "Sincerely, one of the best guards I've ever seen."

You have to play guard at a pretty high level -- and for a pretty long time -- in the NFL to make the kind of imprint Snee made on the game. Monday afternoon, Giants owner John Mara said Snee was the first player he'd ever told, on the occasion of his retirement, that he would definitely be in the team's Ring of Honor.

"We just have to figure out a date," Mara said shortly before Snee came out to formally announce his retirement.

Mara recalled that 2004 draft, in which the Giants were making the big blockbuster deal to trade up for quarterback Eli Manning. He said there was a debate about whether to include that year's second-round pick (No. 34 overall) or the 2005 first-rounder in the deal, and they ultimately decided to hold onto the 2004 second-rounder, "because we felt like it was going to be a real good player, and was it ever."

Snee was that player, though at the time he was picked the bigger headline was about his relationship with Kate Coughlin, the daughter of Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Snee would end up marrying Kate and fathering three of Coughlin's grandsons -- creating a professional arrangement that could have been awkward but which both son-in-law and father-in-law discussed emotionally and lovingly Monday at its end.

"People say, 'You're not very objective about this.' Well, I'm not pleading my case for objectivity right now," Coughlin said. "I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets. People asked about coaching your son-in-law, 'Is it hard?' I'll take 100 of them. If there's 53, I'll take 53 of him."

Manning smiled Monday as he recalled coming into the league at the same time as Snee. Two quiet guys who didn't say much, even to each other as they roomed together in camp and on the road that year, Manning and Snee ended up as part of the backbone of a team that won two Super Bowls. Manning said Snee took some grief early in his career for being the coach's son-in-law, but that he handled it the best way anyone could.

"He became a dominant player," Manning said. "And that helped him really take it in stride."

Dominant. The best player on an offensive line that became a Giants calling card from 2006-10. Snee, Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie quite famously started 38 games in a row at one point. They helped knock off the undefeated New England Patriots and win Super Bowl XLII. Diehl says he still has the copy of the January 12, 2009 ESPN the Magazine cover that pictured the five of them in a circle, looking down at the camera, under the headline "Are These Guys the NFL's Real MVPs?"

"We wanted to be the leaders of our football team," Diehl said. "We had a mentality that we were going to push for each other, work for each other and turn things around for the New York Giants. Chris embodied everything about that mentality. He did it quietly, but he lived it."

Snee lists at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, which makes him a large human being but not an especially large NFL guard. He fought the perception that he was undersized and did it by emphasizing strength and power in his game. Coughlin said Monday that Snee and former defensive tackle Linval Joseph regularly competed in the weight room for the title of strongest player on the team.

"People knocked him for his size, said he was short," Diehl said. "But he had incredible strength, an ability to get under people on double teams, use his legs to move people off a spot and dictate the action. Just a tough, hard-nosed, hard-working football player."

The incredibly physical way Snee played is likely the reason it's over for him at 32. Both hips and his right elbow are shot to the point where he doesn't feel he can play anymore, and after an offseason of trying to get himself in shape to do that, he figured out within the past couple of weeks that he could not.

"I have to admit that I can no longer play," Snee said. "It's a sad day, but once I leave here, I'll be at peace with it."

Snee is a guard, and as such he's a guy who doesn't get or seek a lot of attention. So Monday wasn't easy. He broke down at the start of his retirement news conference, and when it ended he gathered two of his sons in his arms as they cried. He said he'd have to "disappear" for a couple of weeks, but that he expected to return at some point this season to catch a practice and some games because his sons love it so much.

"This is home," Snee said. "My kids love the games. They're going to want to come. I'm going to want to go. It's going to be tough at first, but that's the way life goes."

Snee said "everybody wants the Strahan ending," referring to the fact that former Giant Michael Strahan's final game was the Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots, but he's OK with not getting that ending. He'll wish his final game had been something better than the seven-sack mess the Giants delivered in Week 3 of 2013 in Carolina, but that's not in his control. And if he listened to those who spoke around him Monday, he knows he doesn't have to worry about that being a part of his legacy.

"As an offensive lineman, you don't want the glory, you don't want the fame," Diehl said. "All you want is that 'W' for your team."

The New York Giants won 89 games with Snee on the field from 2004 to 2012. Two of those 89 were Super Bowls. Offensive linemen don't get stats, but they'll take those. And if you're wondering about Chris Snee's legacy, it doesn't need numbers. All you had to do Monday for proof of that was ask. Anybody.
The NFL announced Monday night that the New York Giants would allow a camera in their draft room for this year's draft. The NFL calls it a "war room," which I will not. I find the terminology totally inappropriate and remain confused as to why the NFL, which seems to go out of its way to honor the military at every possible turn, doesn't agree. No NFL team is planning or fighting anything like a "war" this weekend.

Regardless, the Giants have never allowed a camera in their draft room before, and they now join 15 other NFL teams that will allow us, the viewing public, to watch as their GM, coach, scouting director, owners, etc., talk over draft picks before they're made, celebrate them after they're made, field calls from other teams about trades and all that cool draft-day stuff. You, the Giants fan, will be able to watch Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese and John Mara interact as they mull over picks and potential moves. If you're caught up in the draft, it's fun visual drama.

We are a little less than 60 hours away from the start of the draft now, and in the next few days we'll load you up with content. We will have a live mock draft today at 1 p.m. ET on in which each of our NFL team reporters makes the pick for his or her team. Todd McShay's latest mock draft is here , in which the Giants take a defensive player this time. It's all draft all the time, folks, and we are gearing up.

The quarterback-needy teams at the top of this year's NFL draft are miserable, and justifiably so. No one's sold on this year's top quarterbacks, so taking one with a top-five or a top-10 pick is a frightening proposition. If you spend a resource that valuable on a quarterback and you get it wrong, you've made a franchise-crippling mistake.

Oh, but if you get it right ... well, then, you've made a franchise.

The New York Giants were one of those teams 10 years ago. They held the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft and needed a quarterback, and the guy they wanted was going to go No. 1. In order to get Eli Manning from San Diego (and he'd made it clear he didn't want to play there), they had to pick Philip Rivers at No. 4 and trade him and a third-round pick to the Chargers. The Giants also would have to send their 2005 first- and fifth-round picks. 'Twas a heavy price, and a difficult one to pay. But pay it the Giants did, because they decided they were sure that Manning was their guy. They were certain they were getting the right quarterback, and that the price to do so was worth it.

Ten years later, in advance of a draft that has no Eli Manning (and no Philip Rivers, for that matter), the Giants' move to get Manning stands as a prime example of getting the quarterback right. Manning hasn't always been perfect, and he's not and never will be his brother. But as No. 1-pick quarterbacks go, he's one who has lived up to the promise and the price.

Could the Giants have won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with Rivers as their quarterback instead of Manning? Sure, it's possible. Rivers is a fine player who at times during the past decade has been better than Manning. And those Giants Super Bowl teams did have other high-quality aspects to them. It's entirely possible that had the Giants emerged from that draft with Rivers and their 2005 first-round pick, they'd still have won those titles.

But it's not certain, and what is certain is that Manning did deliver those two Super Bowl titles. While Rivers and others who haven't been there continue to carry uncertainty about whether they can be championship-caliber quarterbacks, Manning has been a championship-caliber quarterback. Twice. He was absolutely instrumental in those playoff runs and Super Bowl wins, and to say that Rivers or anyone else would have won those titles with those teams is to presume they'd have played at least as well in those games as Manning did.

The result has been franchise-altering in the best possible way. Think about the difference in the way you perceive the Giants now and the way you'd perceive them if they still hadn't won a Super Bowl since 1991. Think of what having Manning at quarterback has done for the reputations of Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese ... John Mara, for goodness' sake. These are regarded around the league as men at the absolute top of their profession, the Giants as one of the league's exemplary franchises. Would that still be the case if they were working on a 23-year Super Bowl drought? If they'd only ever won two titles instead of four?

Just as Manning wasn't the only reason for the Giants' past two Super Bowl titles, he's not the only reason the reputations of the men in the previous paragraph stand out. But had they not made the move to get him in 2004 -- or had he not turned out to be the player they believed he would be -- they'd have spent all, or at least a good chunk, of the past decade trying to figure out the quarterback spot. And when you look around the league at teams that wander in that desert, you don't exactly see a lot of stability in the general manager's and coaches' offices. A franchise quarterback is an anchor. Having one makes everything else about your team and your football business seem brighter, all of your problems feel easier to solve. That's what Eli Manning has brought to the Giants since then-GM Ernie Accorsi made the move to get him in the 2004 draft. Because of what Manning has delivered on the high end, not even the low moments or the down years have ever given the Giants any reason to doubt whether they did the right thing.
The New York Giants are pass rush, and pass rush is the New York Giants. So we have been told for decades, since the days of L.T. and Bill Parcells. When the Giants win, it's because they pressure quarterbacks. Pass rush is acknowledged as the single biggest reason the Giants have won four Super Bowls and the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Patriots have only won three. Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul ... these are the fearsome edge rushers who have delivered for the Giants in their greatest seasons.

And yet, this offseason has been about the smaller, faster guys who play on the back end of the defense. The Giants let 2013 sack leader Tuck leave via free agency and have not replaced him, instead signing three new cornerbacks and re-signing one of their own cornerbacks and their own safety. If you didn't know any better, you'd think some sort of broad organizational philosophy shift was in the works.

I doubt that's it, because the Giants aren't big into sudden, broad organizational philosophy shifts. But it's entirely possible that the commitment to a secondary that didn't seem to be one of the most pressing needs when the offseason began has something to do with the way offenses are trending in the NFL in general and in the NFC East in particular. The Chip Kelly Eagles get the ball out of their quarterback's hands before a pass rush can get there. Tony Romo is elusive and was picking apart the Giants with short, quick passes in two games last season. And while he didn't look it in that Dec. 1 game last year, Robert Griffin III was a nightmare for Giants pass-rushers the year before when healthy.

If the trend is toward mobile quarterbacks and up-tempo, quick-release passing games, it's entirely possible that devoting more resources to covering receivers is a smart way to go. I still think the best way to disrupt a passing offense is to pressure the quarterback into throwing (or not throwing) the ball. But if you're running a defense these days and you see the way offenses are trending, it's possible to come to the conclusion that you're just not going to be able to dictate that the way you used to. And if that's the case, locking things down on the back end and maybe trying to buy your pass-rushers some extra time that way is a reasonable counter-move.

John Mara said last week that the reason the Giants ended up devoting so many of their free-agent resources to defensive backs was because that's the way the market fell for them, and I believe him. The Giants were a team with many needs, and if the players they liked best for the prices all happened to play defensive back, there's no reason they shouldn't have leaned that way. But I'm interested to see whether beefing up on the back end of the defense rather than the front end is a formula that can work for a team that has, for so long, believed in doing things the other way.
New York Giants owner John Mara is down in Orlando at the NFL owners meetings and stopped to chat with some of the reporters who were there covering the meetings Sunday. One of the topics he discussed was the Giants' activity in free agency. Specifically, after Mara himself described the Giants' offense as "broken" on the day after their 7-9 season ended, why has so much of the free-agency focus been on the defensive side of the ball? Per Tom Rock of Newsday:
"I think that's more a case of that's where the opportunities have presented themselves,'' Mara said of the free-agency splurge, particularly in the secondary. "There were defensive players who were available that we thought could really help us. We did add some offensive players, but we have the draft coming up, so that will be another opportunity.''


"There were good players that were available, and obviously, if you have a real strong secondary, it allows you to do a lot of other things,'' he said. "I think that was an area where we felt we had to improve a little bit. It wasn't our number one priority, but those were the players who were available. I think they should help us.''

The Giants have added a new running back and three new offensive linemen, and at least two of those offensive linemen appear in line for starting jobs. But the most significant deals they've handed out have gone to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and linebacker Jon Beason. They also added cornerback Walter Thurmond and re-signed safety Stevie Brown. The result is a secondary that appears to be the strength of the team right now, but questions remain about the offensive weaponry around quarterback Eli Manning and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

Mara's answer to all of this indicates what we've been writing all along -- the Giants entered this offseason as a team with a huge number of holes all throughout the roster and need to rebuild quality depth pretty much everywhere. Sure, the offense may have been the most desperate area of need. But if the quality players and the best deals for the Giants were in the secondary, it's not as though they were in a position to turn down help there either.

Big, big rebuild going on with the Giants. This year's draft was always going to be an important part of that, and it appears as though the Giants are counting on it as a means of fixing their offense -- for the long term as much as for the short, by the way. And I'm sure there's still a bargain-bin free agent or two out there that could end up helping them before it's all said and done. A project this size can't be completed in three weeks or with one blizzard of free-agent signings. The people who run the Giants understand this and are working accordingly.
Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was at some charity event in New York City on Thursday night and offered some candid thoughts on the disappointing 2013 Giants season and where things stand in terms of the roster. Per Tom Rock of Newsday:
"I think they finally realize there are areas that need to be addressed," the former offensive coordinator said of the obvious deficiencies in line depth and lack of talent at other positions that led to last season's 7-9 record. "I certainly have expressed those concerns for a number of years. It wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when it was going to happen. It really started happening the year before and we were able to fight through it a little bit, but this year the confluence of injuries were just too many."

Gilbride, who was at the PKD Foundation Benefit in Manhattan Thursday night, said he thinks the 2014 Giants can turn it around, but that will start with the front office and free agency, which begins next week.

"They have to get some players," he said. "If the players come back, if [Chris] Snee comes back healthy and [David] Baas comes back healthy. The running back situation is a little scary -- they have to get somebody there. But if they can get somebody there and if [Kevin] Boothe comes back, the inside three will be stable. I know they're going to look for a tight end. There are a lot of holes that need to be filled."

Gilbride "retired" at the end of the 2013 season, though comments made shortly thereafter by Giants owner John Mara indicated he might have been fired had he not quit on his own. He's obviously quite proud of his overall body of work as an NFL coach and maybe a little bit bitter about the way it ended. According to The Star-Ledger's Conor Orr, Gilbride was upset over Mara's day-after-the-season crack about "I don't know why it took us so long to figure out that Jerrel Jernigan could play." And Gilbride also didn't like to hear GM Jerry Reese saying it was time for a change:
“I’m kind of surprised to hear him say that,” Gilbride said when asked about general manager Jerry Reese saying it was time for a change. “No one had figured that offense out for 24 years. To think that they figured it out this year would be pretty ludicrous. I think it was pretty obvious what the problems were. We had a confluence of injuries, we were very weak on the offensive line. We had some guys who struggled. We started six different offensive tailbacks, three different fullbacks, three different right guards, four different centers … You’re not going to have anything (with that). You can say it’s the offense, but it’s pretty clear what the problem was.”

The Giants are moving on with Ben McAdoo as their new offensive coordinator after Gilbride held the job for seven seasons. His record does stand on its own, as he indicated it should. He has received too much of the blame for what went on with the Giants in 2013, as coordinators often do. But I think you can make the case that it was time for a new voice in the meeting room without also denigrating Gilbride's accomplishments. The offense looked just fine when it was winning the second of two Eli Manning/Tom Coughlin-era Super Bowls just 25 months ago.
One of the major questions in the wake of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam's announcement he is gay is how NFL teams will react. With the draft less than three months away and the scouting combine next week, the focus will be on how and whether Sam's coming out will affect his draft stock. To hear the owners of the New York Giants tell it, it shouldn't affect it at all.

"I would just echo what the league and Zak DeOssie, one of our captains, have said in welcoming Michael into our league and supporting him as he attempts to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL," John Mara said Monday in a statement released by the team. "Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael’s announcement will not affect his position on our draft board."

"As I said last night, Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man," Steve Tisch said in his own statement released by the team. "I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team. Our game is the ultimate team game, and we often talk about how a team is a family. Regardless of where you are from, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexual orientation is, if you are good enough to be on the team, you are part of the family. How the University of Missouri and its football program embraced and supported Michael is a tremendous blueprint for all of us, but frankly, I think the lessons of our game also provide the same positive example."

I'll echo what I wrote this morning, which is that the Giants likely would be a welcoming environment for Sam due to their strong leadership. The question in the Giants' draft room will be whether Sam represents good value at the mid-round pick with which he'd be available to them. The Giants run a 4-3 defense, but while Sam played 4-3 defensive end in college, there is concern that his lack of prototypical size would inhibit his ability to do so in the NFL. That doesn't mean the Giants won't take him if they think he's a good enough player to help them on special teams and in certain roles, but it's hard to see him as the kind of player they have to have.

Big Blue Morning: Weekend recap

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
Sorry this is late, folks. Was working late at the Super Bowl, then had to get up early to drive through the snow to Bristol, where I'll be appearing on "NFL Insiders" at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN on Monday and Tuesday this week. Yes, the best apologies always come with shameless plugs.

Anyway, we will turn our attention this week to the Giants' offseason and their priorities in terms of their own free agents. I expect them to attack some of the simpler situations -- guys like Andre Brown and Stevie Brown, for example -- early in the process while the thornier situations of Justin Tuck, Hakeem Nicks, Linval Joseph and Jon Beason sort themselves out closer to or even after the start of free agency. But that's just my educated guess. Will work to find out more in the coming days with the Super Bowl now behind us.

As for Giants-related issues from the weekend, in case you missed them ...

Michael Strahan was elected to the Hall of Fame, no doubt providing an offseason smile for Giants fans who remember better days. He also got an apology from his now-fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, according to Sapp.

And Giants owner John Mara wants another Super Bowl in New Jersey because this one went well. He's entitled to his opinion, of course, and the week was great, if a little too cold early on. Personally, I loved covering a Super Bowl that didn't require me to get on a plane or sleep in a hotel. But I continue to think the NFL is nuts to press its luck on this. Just because something worked one time doesn't mean it was a good idea.
MetLife Stadium skylineAP Photo/Charlie RiedelNew York Giants co-owner John Mara would like to see the Super Bowl return to MetLife Stadium.
You know how you make deals with your kids and you know they're going to take advantage but you do it anyway because they're your kids and you just love 'em so doggone much? Like, it's bedtime and you're having fun playing video games with them and they say, "Daddy, pleeeeeease, just one more game and we'll go right to bed?" And then you say yes, and you play the one more game and they ask for another one?

This is John Mara. He's the kid in this story. Roger Goodell and the NFL's other owners are the duped parents who think their kid can do no wrong. And Mara's going to keep getting his way as long as they're all too scared or myopic to put their foot down.

Mara said on the "Ian O'Connor Show" on Sunday morning on ESPN Radio that of course he thinks the Super Bowl should return to MetLife Stadium in future years, because, wow, yeah, the week's been great and look how great the weather is on this one random early-February weekend in 2014.
Asked if he wanted a Super Bowl sequel at MetLife, Mara said, "Based on everything that's happened so far, yes. If we can be assured that we'd get the same cooperation from all the different government entities that were involved, which has been tremendous so far, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't consider doing it again.

"I think that when the NFL owners that are here, when they leave MetLife Stadium tonight after this game, I'm pretty confident that most of them will say to themselves that it was a great idea to have this event in this area, New York and New Jersey, and why not come back here again. It's good for the league."

What a pile of garbage. It's good for John Mara, and for the New York/New Jersey area that hosted all of the events leading up to Sunday night's game. But it's whatever for the NFL, which could stage the Super Bowl on the moon and find a way to make a zillion dollars off of it.

What no one's calling these guys on is that they promised this was a one-time deal. Go back and read what they were saying in 2010, when they decided the game would be here. Asked specifically about this, Goodell and Mara's fellow owners insisted this would be a one-time exception to the NFL's longstanding rule requiring the game to be held in places that had either a dome or an average high temperature of at least 50 degrees. Goodell categorically shot down the idea of other cold-weather, open-air-stadium cities hosting the game because New York is special. No one came right out and admitted that the Super Bowl was a reward condition for Mara's Giants and Woody Johnson's Jets building a new stadium with more luxury boxes and better premium seating options than Giants Stadium had, but everything everyone said made it clear that that's what this was, and that once it was over it wouldn't happen again.


News item: John Mara says he wants another New York/New Jersey Super Bowl.


Discuss (Total votes: 7,000)

But we all know these guys don't always tell the truth, and so there was never any reason to believe this exact thing wouldn't happen. And now that the area got through the early part of the week with frigid-but-not-incapacitating weather, and now that it appears game conditions will be the absolute best anyone could have hoped for when this whole cockamamie idea was conceived, they want to go back on this.

They shouldn't press their luck. For goodness' sake, another winter storm is scheduled to hit this area mere hours after the game ends Sunday night. They got lucky by one day. And that's just game day we're talking about. Every time they have the Super Bowl here or in Chicago or in Philadelphia (and you know that's going to come up as long as Mara keeps pushing), the NFL is going to be taking a major risk that its biggest week (not just its biggest day, but its major convention week) gets ruined due to weather. And I continue to fail to understand the reasons for inviting that risk.

No, you can't predict the weather. It snowed in Atlanta and New Orleans early last week, which means the Super Bowl would have been a mess this year if it had been in either of those warm-weather, dome-stadium towns. Three years ago Dallas was crippled by an ice storm. I get that you can't predict weather years in advance. But you can minimize risk, and you can decide to hold your gargantuan event in places where it's more likely to go well. The NFL should do this, and the fact the weather in New Jersey on Feb. 2, 2014, is good does not qualify as a good reason to invite the game back here -- or to Philadelphia or Chicago or Foxborough -- in 2018. It's madness. It always was madness. And just because they got away with it one time doesn't mean it makes sense to push their luck and try it again.

But they will. Because they're just like spoiled kids. If you always give them everything they want, then they never stop asking for more.

Giants deny forgery suit claims

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
NEW YORK -- So this is an interesting one. A New York Post story on Thursday said that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, as well as team owner John Mara and equipment managers Ed and Joe Skiba, are being sued for allegedly passing off forgeries as "game-used" equipment. The report says the suit claims Manning's involvement was in retaining his game-worn items for himself while knowing that Joe Skiba was doctoring other items and selling them on the pretense that Manning had used them in games. It's all very skeevy stuff, and the Giants were quick to deny it.

"This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously," a Giants team spokesman said Thursday. "We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation."

Tough to draw many conclusions here. Obviously, if the accusations were to turn out to be true, it would severely damage the image of both Manning and the Giants, and likely cost Skiba his job. But the suit could be bogus, as the Giants claim it is, in which case it could be a wronged party out to make someone famous look bad during Super Bowl week when so many eyes are on his sport, his town and his family.

Sadly, not much is impossible to believe anymore, and a scam in which a player and some people around him -- including an outside dry cleaner who allegedly doctored items to look worn when they hadn't been -- isn't farfetched. But that doesn't mean Manning, Skiba and the Giants actually did any of this, so it's important to hold off on making any judgments until we see where this goes.

Big Blue Morning: Heat wave coming

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
The forecast for Super Bowl Sunday in New Jersey is now a high temperature of 43 degrees, a zero percent chance of precipitation and 7-mph winds. So, pretty much as perfect a day as you could hope for if you were ever to make the inane decision to have the Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in New Jersey. Good for Roger Goodell and John Mara. It's about time those guys caught a break, right?

In all seriousness, no one has been rooting for a weather disaster here, and it's good that signs point to the positive for a game that has a chance to be one for the ages. He's admittedly biased, but New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning sounds glad that his brother won't have to worry about weather conditions affecting his and the Denver Broncos' chances of winning the game.

In other Giants-ish news, Justin Tuck obviously sides with Michael Strahan in the Strahan-Warren Sapp beef and hopes his mentor gets that Hall of Fame call this Saturday.

This was overnight Tuesday, but it was good from Lyle Crouse, who talked to former Giant Sam Garnes about his memories of losing a Super Bowl game. Garnes is now an assistant coach with the Broncos, hoping a win Sunday can ease that memory.

And from the files of the bizarre, Plaxico Burress tells Jordan Raanan that he advised Hakeem Nicks this past season, which could explain a lot, actually.

Mara: No Coughlin contract talks yet

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
New York Giants owner John Mara appeared on Mike Lupica's ESPN radio show Monday on 98.7 FM in New York. The link to the interview is here, and while the bulk of it is devoted to Mara's continued celebration of the indefensible decision to hold the Super Bowl in New Jersey, there are a couple of Giants topics addressed starting around the 8:30 mark.

Mara said the team hasn't yet had discussions with coach Tom Coughlin about extending his contract beyond 2014. The Giants have a longstanding policy of not allowing their head coach to enter the final season of his contract as a lame duck, but Mara indicated on the day after the season that they could change that.

"In terms of Tom’s future, we haven’t even had that discussion yet," Mara said on Lupica's show Monday. "He’s obviously going to be our coach here next year and hopefully for longer than that, but we haven’t sat down to even talk about that yet. I think he’s just focused on getting the team ready for next year, and sometime in the future we will sit down and talk about that."

Meantime, Mara said he's happy that the team decided to make changes to the offensive coaching staff. After longtime offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride did the team a favor by retiring before they had to decide to fire him, they hired 36-year-old Packers assistant Ben McAdoo for his first offensive coordinator job at any level and let go of longtime tight ends coach Mike Pope and running backs coach Jerald Ingram.

"There are times where you just have to do that, because things were just not working for us, particularly on offense," Mara said. "So I’m glad that we are making some changes. We need to move forward and we need to do things a little bit differently around here."

That appears to be the plan on offense. Mara went on to say that he believes there's enough talent on the team to contend and make the playoffs in 2014, which everybody in the league believes and should believe about their team. But as he also said, the Giants have a great deal of work to do in the draft and in free agency before we know that their 2014 will even look like.
We all know New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks didn't catch a touchdown pass in 2013, that he's a free agent and that it's unlikely he'll be back with the Giants in 2014. None of this is news to anyone who's been paying attention. But Ian Rapoport's report Sunday was interesting in that it offered some details about reasons for which the Giants fined Nicks during the season -- specifically, being late and missing treatments for injuries.

I hadn't personally heard that, but it doesn't surprise me. I know the Giants left Nicks inactive for the Nov. 24 game against Dallas because they were upset he missed practice to get checked out for a hernia the week before, and I know the coaching staff had a hard time concealing its frustration about the way Nicks performed on the field all season long. I also know Nicks didn't carry himself well this year, referring often to "my situation" (meaning his contract situation) when explaining certain things that were going on. He certainly offered us all implicit permission to believe that making it to free agency without getting hurt was his priority. It was surprising and out of character for a player who'd never been a diva or a me-first guy before. And while self-interest may be understandable in the unforgiving, non-guaranteed-contract NFL, it's not the kind of thing that endears you to coaches and teammates who are trying to win games in the meantime.

So what happens now? Well, as I said, I think the strong likelihood is that the Giants look to replace Nicks via free agency and/or the draft. I don't know that it's certain he's gone. For instance, owner John Mara spoke up in defense of Nicks the day after the season ended, during a news conference in which Mara wasn't holding much back. They have seen the best of Nicks as well as the worst, and as I wrote last week, there are still a couple of ways this could go. Everything has a price, and if somehow the market Nicks envisions for his services doesn't materialize, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could sign back with the Giants for less than he wants.

But when you combine the way Nicks performed this year as the offense fell apart with the strong chance that accumulated injuries have sapped him of his early-career speed and explosiveness, and then you add in the likelihood that other teams will be interested, it makes sense for the Giants to look at other options. Nicks wears a Giants Super Bowl ring and will always be a part of positive memories for Giants fans. But as of right now, in the wake of this very disappointing 2013 season, he doesn't look like a player in whom the Giants should invest any more time and money.