"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Almost everything about Wellington Mara was old-fashioned, starting with his name. Who anymore names a child after the Duke of Wellington?
He had an earthy, pug-nosed Irish face and an authentic New York accent, of the kind you hear now only in movies from the 30's and 40's. He was a Catholic who attended Mass daily and fathered 11 children. And as his eulogists kept pointing out, he was the last of the old-school sports-team owners, a throwback to football's leather-helmet era.
That we will not see his like again is a certainty, if for no other reason than that people no longer become owners at age 14, the way Mara did in 1930, when his father, a former bookmaker, turned the Giants over to him and his older brother, Jack.
Mara…was beloved by his players - seven busloads of whom turned out for his funeral…
Mr. Mara assembled the fabled Giants teams of the 1950's and 60's; they included Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Y. A. Tittle, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Roosevelt Brown and Roosevelt Grier. And he helped fuel the immense prosperity that all the N.F.L. franchises enjoy by championing a formula in which all the teams share equally in national television broadcast revenue.
He devoted his life to his large family, his Catholic faith and his extended Giants family, whose members revered him for his integrity and kindness.
The archetypical Catholic gentleman distinguished himself in his pro-life work, very practically engaging football stars in his “Athletes for Life” which helped the moral formation of young boys in our morally desolate culture. I saw him shortly before he died and he never ceased to smile in spite of his discomfort.
We used to joke that we got on so well because of my disdain for professional football, fleeing the slightest prospect of free tickets. He was a faithful penitent and communicant and I think he converted many in his raucous profession by his example.
At Mara's funeral in 2005 his son John recalled in a eulogy one of the few times Mara lost his temper with the press:
‘What can you expect from an Irishman named Wellington, whose father was a bookmaker?’ A local sports writer derisively wrote those words about 30 years ago during a time when we were going through some pretty awful seasons. My father usually didn’t let criticism from the media affect him very much, but those words stung him in a very personal way.
‘I’ll tell you what you can expect,’ he said at our kickoff luncheon just a few days later. ‘You can expect anything he says or writes may be repeated aloud in your own home in front of your own children. You can believe that he was taught to love and respect all mankind, but to fear no man. And you could believe that his abiding ambitions were to pass onto his family the true richness of the inheritance he received from his father, the bookmaker: The knowledge and love and fear of God and second to give you (our fans and our coach) a Super Bowl winner.’
Lastly, if Wellington Mara weren't already in the RCBfA pantheon, this is his granddaughter:
Actress Kate Mara, pictured above in Vanity Fair, also is great-granddaughter of Steelers founder Art Rooney.