The Washington Redskins issued the following statements on the passing of New York Giants owner Wellington Mara:
Statement from Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder on the passing of New York Giants owner Wellington Mara:
"Wellington Mara was a dear friend and football fans everywhere mourn his passing.
"Throughout my tenure as an NFL owner he was an invaluable advisor in person and in our many phone calls. As a Hall of Fame owner and backbone of the League, he shaped the sport we all love so dearly.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this sad time."
Statement from Washington Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs on the passing of New York Giants Owner Wellington Mara:
"As one of the founding fathers of the NFL, he had a tremendous impact on many aspects of the game.
"In my experience with him at NFL Meetings, he was a leader and someone we all respected. He proved he was a great team builder and knew exactly what it took to put together a great team and a championship organization.
"My condolences go out to his family and the Giants organization."
The following is an excerpt of a press release released Tuesday morning by the New York Giants:
Wellington Mara, the Giants' President and Co-Chief Executive Officer who was a vital member of the franchise for every one of its 81 years, a National Football League icon and one of the most beloved and respected figures in professional sports, died today.
Mara peacefully passed away at his home in Rye, N.Y., at 9:26 a.m. He surrounded by his wife, Ann, his 11 children and their spouses, and many of his 40 grandchildren. He was 89.
A constant presence throughout his life at games and practices, in the locker room or in his office, Mara had not visited Giants Stadium for several weeks, because he was being treated for his illness. He did not attend training camp this year, nor was he at any games this season.
Mara was diagnosed with cancerous lymph nodes in early April. On May 10, he underwent surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes.
In late July, just prior to the beginning of training camp, Mara began receiving radiation treatments, which lasted until late August. He received treatments five times a week, and underwent a total of 33 treatments.
Mara was hospitalized for approximately four weeks beginning in late September. Last Friday, he left the hospital and returned to his Westchester home.
The last Giants game of Mara's life was Sunday's thrilling 24-23 victory over Denver. Prior to the game, Coach Tom Coughlin had talked to the players about Mr. Mara, as well as the Giants' other owner, Bob Tisch ,who is suffering from brain cancer. After the Giants won the game on an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Amani Toomer with five seconds remaining, Coughlin spoke to the team in the locker room. The players then came together in a tight circle, raised their hands and chanted, "Duke, Duke, Duke." Mara's nickname was "Duke."
Faith, family and football were the marrow of Mara's life. He was a deeply religious man who attended Mass daily.
It is impossible to overstate the influence Mara had on the Giants and in the NFL. He was one of the most important and influential figures in the history of professional football, a man credited with many of the ideas and innovations that have made the NFL the nation's most popular professional sports league. In 1997, Mara was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining his father, Tim Mara, who was a charter member of the Hall of Fame. Wellington Mara attended the induction ceremony then, typically, was back at work the next day.
No one in the history of American sports had a career quite like Wellington T. Mara. Indeed, it's likely no one in any endeavor has been as closely associated with a famed entity as long as Mara has with the New York Giants.
The 2005 season is the Giants' 81st in the NFL. It was also Mara's 81st with the team. In those eight decades, he held many jobs as the most significant figure in franchise history.
In 1930, Timothy J. Mara, who had purchased the franchise in 1925, turned over the ownership to his two sons, Jack, 22 and Wellington, who was then 14. Thus began a storied career in ownership that continued until his death. During that time Mara was the foundation of the franchise, and for many years he was the chief decision-maker on all football matters. Mara was involved in every aspect of operating the Giants during his eight decades with the team. His first job was a ballboy at training camp. In time he graduated from the on-the-field operations to scouting and general organization, and eventually to the front office executive capacity. Until 1965, Mara was responsible for the franchise's football decisions, while his late brother, Jack, handled the business operations of the team. The Giants played in five NFL Championship Games from 1958-63 and a key to that success were trades engineered by Mara that brought Y.A. Tittle, Andy Robustelli, Del Shofner, Dick Modzelewski, Pat Summerall, Joe Walton, Dick Lynch, Erich Barnes, Bill Svoboda, Harland Svare, Bob Schnelker, Herb Rich, Ed Hughes and Walt Yowarsky, among others, to the Giants. Draft choices Frank Gifford and Rosie Brown went on to become members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as did Tuffy Leemans, whom Mara had recommended in 1936. The Giants won the NFL Championship in 1956, and of his championship rings, the only one he ever wore was from that title season.
Mara was instrumental in the outstanding accomplishments of the Giants: 26 postseason appearances (the second-highest total in league history), including 18 NFL Divisional championships and six NFL championships, among them the Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV titles. The only interruption in Mara's Giants career was during World War II, when he served with distinction for more than three years in the Navy, seeing action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters aboard aircraft carriers and emerging as a Lieutenant Commander.
More than 30 years ago, he began leaving most football decisions to others, but remained a strong, active and essential presence in the organization.
In addition to serving the Giants admirably for so many years, Mara was an invaluable contributor to the NFL as a member of many ownership committees. He has recognized for always putting the league's interests ahead of what was best for the Giants. From 1971 until 1977, he was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the NFL Management Council, the labor arm of the NFL, and under his leadership the league achieved five years of labor peace from 1977 to 1981. Mara was elected President of the National Football Conference in 1984, succeeding the late George Halas in that role. Mara later served on the Hall of Fame committee, as well as the Executive Committee of the Management Council. He was a member of the Competition Committee, replacing Vince Lombardi after his death, for one year before leaving to join the Management Council.