Giants co-owner Ann Mara rooting for her quarterback's brother at Super Bowl XLVIII
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The losses never get easier for Ann Mara, even after 60 years in the Mara family.
"I still get as upset [as ever]," the Giants' matriarch and co-owner said Thursday. "I am talking to myself all night long. That's where I miss my [late] husband [Wellington] the most. I don't have him to talk it over with -- and blame."
So why not just blame her eldest son, John, the team president?
"He's afraid to take my calls," she said, laughing.
Mara was in good spirits on the phone from Florida as she spoke about helping to host the first Super Bowl in the New York area, and about how much the event would have meant to Wellington.
But she acknowledged that the Giants' losing season was even more frustrating because they had the chance to do what no team has done in the Super Bowl era and they haven't done since 1962: play for an NFL title in their own stadium.
"Yes, definitely, definitely," she said. "But hopefully it will be successful and maybe they'll have another one [at MetLife Stadium]. I don't know whether in my lifetime, but hopefully."
Mara, who is in her 80s, plans to return to New York on Sunday and "attend all the events I can" during Super Bowl week, including the game itself -- along with all 11 of her children and their families and friends.
"There'll be 70 of us, at least," she said.
No one would have enjoyed it more than Wellington, who died in 2005, ending an association with the franchise that began when his father, Tim, bought it in 1925.
"He would've been thrilled, I'm sure, for the fans and for New York," Ann Mara said. "It's going to mean a lot to New York and New Jersey."
There are many reasons the NFL granted the metropolitan area the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather region, among them as a reward for building a new stadium and to tap into New York-area commerce and media.
But another presumed factor was the widespread respect for the role the Mara family has played in league history.
"I hope so," Ann Mara said. "That's what I believe, anyway. I think the Maras deserve it, at least my husband and his father and his brother [Jack]. They did so much for the NFL."
Mara attracted national attention two years ago when she confronted Fox's Terry Bradshaw in the winning locker room in San Francisco after the NFC Championship Game over his tendency to pick against the Giants.
So there is no questioning her toughness or spunk. That was evident in her attitude about the possibility of cold weather next week.
"I think it's going to be great," she said. "I think people worry too much about the weather.
"After seeing some of the games played in Green Bay and Boston and snow was coming down and it was freezing cold, everybody sat out and enjoyed the game."
The last time the New York area hosted an NFL Championship Game was Dec. 30, 1962, when the Giants lost to the Packers at Yankee Stadium -- a day recalled by most who were there for its frigid winds.
Was Mrs. Mara cold?
"Noooo," she said. "Of course, I was much younger, so I didn't feel it. It was not that cold. We survived . . . I've sat in Green Bay and all the other places where it's freezing cold. You get used to it."
Still, Mara will be watching from a heated suite Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium, where she plans to make an exception to her usual policy of rooting for the NFC team in the big game.
"I'm very fond of the Mannings, so I've got to root for Peyton," she said. "I usually root for the National Conference except when Pittsburgh plays, I usually root for the Steelers." (The Steelers' Rooney family and the Maras have been close for decades.)
Among her activities next week will be accepting the Paul J. Tagliabue Award of Excellence from the Fritz Pollard Alliance and joining the Jets in hosting a welcoming party for league owners and executives.
Come Feb. 3, the sole focus will be back on improving the Giants for 2014. While John is team president and speaks for the family on ownership matters, Ann and Joan Tisch, the widow of co-owner Bob Tisch, own most of the franchise.
When John was asked after the Giants' finale if his job is safe, he joked, "Not according to my mother, it's not."
Said Ann: "He might have been joking, but I wasn't."
So has she ordered him to get the team back to the big game as soon as possible?
"Right, right, and remember who's boss," she said. "That's what I keep telling him."