In the past six years, John Mara has attended four different press conferences, each time introducing the new head coach or general manager he hired with great optimism and enthusiasm.
They were all fired within that same time frame.
He knows it’s as much an indictment of him as president and co-owner of the Giants as it is of the men he’s brought in to lead his team. That’s why Mara now seems to regret one thing more than the people he’s hired over the years, and that’s the way he selected them.
“We didn’t necessarily make the right choices,” he admitted on Wednesday. “I think when I look back at our process, I wish it had been a little more extensive, that we’d seen more people and maybe taken a little more time with it.
“We’re going to try not to make that mistake this time.”
This time is already different in many ways. The retirement of general manager Dave Gettleman and the resignation of head coach Joe Judge this week seem to mark the first realization from Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch that large-scale changes, not just in names but in philosophies and ways of doing business, are necessary for the Giants to return to a certain level of competitive competence. They don’t pick candidates from past or current internal employees as they normally do. They don’t ask almost rhetorical questions in these interviews with answers that everyone knows they want to hear clearly.
And most importantly, they take their time.
“I want to go through a complete process here, interviewing as many people as possible,” Mara said. “I don’t want to rush anything. We’ve made that mistake in the past. I want to make sure we see as many candidates as possible.”
Their list of potential general managers currently stands at nine with two of them — Bills’ assistant general manager Joe Schoen and Cardinals vice president of pro-personnel Adrian Wilson — meeting the property on Wednesday for virtual first-round interviews. The Giants will meet on Thursday with Cardinals vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris and Kansas City’s executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles. At such a pace, the Giants are likely to conduct face-to-face interviews with finalists early next week and possibly reach a decision late next week. But again, Mara doesn’t want to rush it.
From there, they move on to finding a head coach, with the new general manager leading that search.
Even that part will have no aptitude.
“There are no package deals,” Mara said.
The Giants have long been an organization that prided itself on stability, trying—sometimes with some success—to refurbish rather than rebuild. However, in recent years it has gotten so bad that Mara said the only remedy was a clean slate.
“We just got to a point where I thought we’d dug a hole so deep I couldn’t see a clear path to get out unless we blew it up completely and started all over,” Mara said of pressing. ctrl-alt-delete” on the franchise. Blowing it up doesn’t just mean getting rid of coaches and general managers. It also means blowing up old thinking and practices.
Every generation of Maras has faced these kinds of changes, starting with John’s grandfather, Tim, who founded the team in 1925. In 1979, his father, Wellington, led a dramatic restructuring of the organization that ended a long period of failure. Now John Mara says he’s bringing the franchise back to its beginnings for the third time in its nearly century of existence.
In the coming weeks, Mara will once again stand in front of a microphone and introduce two more people who are shining with potential and dripping with ideas. He’ll be just as excited and optimistic about hiring them as he’s been the last four times.
He will say that he believes they are the men for the job.
And he will hope he gets the process and hiring right this time.