Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

MR. MARA OF THE NEW YORK GIANTS

Wellington Mara, the patriarch of the New York Giants,
was a legend in the sporting world and in the game of
Life. Mr. Mara and I maintained a lively correspondence
over the years, and he appeared on my cable television
and radio shows.

One of my proudest moments occurred when this dear man
called me “Coach.” It was an appellation I cherish to this
day. I’ve included my own thoughts on his passing, which
prompted a lovely note from George Steinbrenner, who
wrote, “The world of sport will never see his like
again….” Also here preserved is John Mara’s beautiful
tribute to his father, delivered to a packed St. Patrick’s
Cathedral.

He went out a winner.

On Sunday, the New York Giants came from behind in the final minutes to beat the Denver Broncos 24–23. And at his home at 67 Park Drive South in Rye, the eighty-nine-year-old Wellington Mara watched the game through a haze of painkillers and medication. The elderly man with the cherubic smile and dancing eyes was in the final hours of an extraordinary life. He was comforted by those who loved him the most, but dying is something you have to do all by yourself.

After he left us early Tuesday morning, October 25, Mr. Mara’s passing was covered on the front page of the New York Times, whose editors knew the man transcended the raucous, and often brutal, game of football. The life of Wellington Mara was more than just a sports story.

The pages where they celebrated his gentle genius bombard us daily with schedules, scores, and statistics. But the patriarch of the New York Giants was about more than touchdowns, win–loss records, championship rings, or even the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where Mr. Mara is permanently enshrined.

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