John Mara was with his 7-year-old grandson recently when someone asked the child who his favorite Giants player is. He looked up at his grandpa and asked: “Can I still say Odell?”
Mara said he could.
The shadow of the trade that sent Beckham to the Browns in March is still cast over the organization, right to the very top. And despite his playing in Cleveland these days, as well as having some disparaging things to say about the Giants organization on his way there, for a lot of Giants fans, he might still be their favorite player, too.
But Mara said Tuesday that he is happy with the decisions this offseason that overhauled the look of the roster and the personality of the organization.
“You don’t like to see all of that talent go out the door,” Mara said of the departures of Beckham, as well as Pro Bowlers Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon. “But let’s face it, we’ve had one winning season, 2016, here and the other five or six years have not been so good since we won that last Super Bowl. So we needed some drastic changes.”
Mara also expressed confidence in the architect of those changes, general manager Dave Gettleman.
“I think the best thing for me about Dave is he makes decisions that he feels are in the best interest of the franchise,” Mara said. “He doesn’t give a damn what people think about it, be it media or be it fans or anybody. He has the courage of his convictions and you have to have that. He set about to try to rebuild this team, change the culture in the locker room.”
Mara admitted he is not a patient person, especially in the face of losing. This, he conceded, may be a long rebuild. And he indicated that both Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur will keep their jobs at least until the Giants and the world find out what they have in rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
“I’m not satisfied with five wins,” Mara said of the result of Gettleman and Shurmur’s first season together, “but I think [they] have us headed in the right direction. We have a lot of confidence in them.”
That term — “the right direction” — came up several times as Mara spoke with the collected media for the first time since the spring. He did not put any ultimatum of win totals or playoff appearances on the 2019 season, but said when he walks off the field after the final game, be it in December, January, or — dare to dream — February, he wants to feel like the Giants are heading in “the right direction.”
As for now, Mara said he believes that to be true.
Even if his grandson may not be on board with it yet.
“Until we start winning games, it’s hard to sell people on that notion,” he said, “but it’s what I believe.”
Notes & quotes: The Giants placed WR Amba Etta-Tawo (Achilles) on IR and waived TE Isaiah Searight and DE Alex Jenkins. They signed rookie TE Jake Powell.