Giants co-owner John Mara on the sidelines before an NFL...

Giants co-owner John Mara on the sidelines before an NFL preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Aug .14, 2021. Credit: Brad Penner

John Mara has lived through nearly all of the heartbreak the Giants have produced during his lifetime.

At 67, he’s old enough to have seen Vince Lombardi leave for Green Bay and Tom Landry march off to Dallas to produce Hall of Fame careers with two of the NFL’s most iconic franchises.

He heard the derisive chants of "Goodbye Allie" as the man chosen ahead of Lombardi and Landry presided over a decline in the 1960s that stretched nearly to the end of the '70s.

He saw Sam Huff forever wounded by the trade to Washington.

He watched in horror as Joe Pisarcik’s ill-fated handoff caromed off Larry Csonka and into the waiting arms of Herman Edwards in the final moments of a Nov. 18, 1978 game against the Eagles. It would be called "The Fumble," a moment that has been dubbed the worst in franchise history. A week later, some fans burned their tickets before the team’s next home game. And two weeks after that, he saw the plane fly over Giants Stadium, carrying the banner "15 Years of Lousy Football. We’ve Had Enough."

Yet none of it — not even some of the more recent disappointment that includes the infamous stunt by Odell Beckham Jr. and some teammates posing on a boat off the coast of south Florida before a playoff game they lost in Green Bay, Eli Manning’s senseless benching, and two years of losing football under Pat Shurmur — can compare to Mara’s feelings right now.

With his team continuing to lurch from one failed regime to another and having just completed a 4-13 season that resulted in the retirement of general manager Dave Gettleman and the firing of Joe Judge, Mara was asked if this week, this day, this moment, represent his lowest time in his nearly seven decades-long affiliation with his family business.

"Honestly," he said Wednesday, "I would have to say yes."

It was a stunning revelation by the team president and co-owner as he delivered postseason remarks at the end of another failed regime. In what has become his personal Groundhog Day, Mara has said goodbye to a coach every other year since showing Tom Coughlin the door after the 2015 season. The Giants have moved on from Ben McAdoo, Shurmur and now Judge, with Gettleman sneaking off into retirement a day earlier.

The state of the franchise is a mess, and Mara knows he cannot defend it. He also knows nothing he can say now will assuage fans who have become so disgusted with the losing that they’ve started to lose interest in the team, as evidenced by the fact that MetLife Stadium was only about a third full for Sunday’s 22-7 embarrassment against the Washington Football Team.

When asked on a Zoom call why fans should believe he can turn things around, Mara said, "I haven’t given them any reason to believe that."

He thought things were turning around last year and that Gettleman finally had turned the corner on his roster reconstruction.

Nothing could have been further from the eventual outcome.

"We finished 5-3, and I thought that the arrow was pointing up," Mara said. "I thought we were moving in the right direction. I thought the communication at that end of the building [in the personnel department] was good. For whatever reason, things went haywire . . . I kept thinking we had hit rock bottom, and then each week, we got a little worse."

It got much worse: Judge ended the season with six straight losses, went on an 11-minute postgame rant in Chicago in which he defended his coaching and then called one of the most pathetically conservative games against Washington that included quarterback sneaks on second and third downs from inside his own 5-yard line.

Mara knew he had to wipe the slate clean, seeing off Gettleman in retirement on Monday and then dropping the hammer on Judge on Tuesday. "We reached a point where we had to hit the reset button to get a fresh start," he said.

And now come the decisions that will shape the team’s immediate and long-term future. Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch will settle on a new general manager, who then will put forth his recommendation for the next head coach.

It is a promising field of candidates at both spots.

Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters, 49ers director of player personnel Ran Carthon, Kansas City executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, and several others are among the GM candidates. The coaching pool includes Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

Mara has yet another chance to get it right, and he knows the decisions he makes now will determine whether he can pull his franchise from the muck of a steep and lasting decline.

"It’s up to me and Steve Tisch to make the right choices going forward to earn back their trust," he said. "That’s going to take some time, but it starts with getting the general manager pick correct and then with hiring the right head coach. We’re going to have to earn their trust again."

Mara can only hope he can emerge from his personal rock bottom moment and set the stage for lasting success. He knows that won’t happen anytime soon.