John Mara showed the kind of fire that he had hoped to see from his team on the field in recent weeks. Get this guy a helmet and shoulder pads!
The president and CEO of the Giants usually avoids the spotlight, but he flexed his clout yesterday, sharing his feelings about a season that ended less than 24 hours earlier with a 44-7 loss in Minnesota but had been, in his eyes, spiraling downward for a while.
"Probably as disappointed as I've ever been in my life at this team," Mara said in describing his emotions, particularly given the expectations coming into the season and the roster that was assembled. "I'm disappointed in everything. I'm unhappy with everybody. It's just not acceptable to perform like that. There are 8-8 seasons and there are 8-8 seasons, but this one felt a lot more like 2-14 to me."
Most of that feeling came in the second half of the season because for the first month and a half, the Giants looked like a title contender.
"We started out 5-0 and you start thinking about the postseason and we just did not expect it to end this way, particularly these last two weeks," Mara said of going 3-8 in the final 11 games and losing the last two by a combined 85-16. "Even before the last two games, there were at least four other losses where we were not competitive. Obviously, the last two games were the worst. When you have that many games where you get blown out, there's something wrong and something's got to be done."
Mara said there will not be any changes at head coach and general manager. But his blunt, pointed answers were in contrast with the generalities given earlier in the day by Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese.
Coughlin described the Giants as a team that had "lost its identity." Reese pointed to injuries as a large reason for the disappointing season and said he thought the players played hard, even in the final two indignities.
Mara disagreed with those analyses, citing a "lack of mental and physical toughness and, quite frankly, a lack of effort over the last two weeks." He also said: "I know we had some injuries, but I don't think we had catastrophic injuries. There's no excuse for performing the way we performed over basically the last 11 weeks.
"When you perform the way we performed over the second half of the season, it hurts - period - regardless of what you've done prior," Mara said of having hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with many of the same players less than two years ago. "I've been around a long time, I thought I had seen everything, but I certainly didn't see this coming and I certainly didn't see the last two weeks coming."
Mara insisted that the "status quo is not acceptable," and shortly after that, changes did start to take place - defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was fired.
The last time Mara appeared this angry with the team was at the end of the 2003 season, when Jim Fassel was fired, describing the Giants as "a franchise in trouble." He said he wouldn't go that far this time and believes the team has a solid core of players and good organization.
But clearly changes will have to be made to satisfy the man who pays the bills and (not unnoticed) is building a new stadium for the team.
Mara said he'll wait before making any rash decisions, try to calm himself and make rational moves to help the Giants get back to the level they have been at in recent years. But he would not put a time frame on when that Mara temper would subside.
"It's going to be a while," he said. "I don't know if I'll ever get over the last two weeks, to be honest with you."