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NEW YORK GIANTS MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 5, 2016
New York, NY
JOHN MARA: Yesterday Steve and I conveyed to Tom how much we appreciate everything he's done for this franchise. Not just the obvious, the two Super Bowls, but the pride and professionalism, character, integrity, everything that he brought to us. The way he conducted himself, everything you could ever ask for for the head coach of the New York Giants.
12 years ago Ernie Accorsi and I first sat down with Tom at the Newark Marriott Hotel. I remember that so clearly because he started off on some, before we asked him a question, this rambling monologue about what was wrong with the team, with the league, with the world. I looked at Ernie, he looked at me, I just thought to myself, This is just not going to work. This guy is not what we're looking for.
Well, fortunately things improved quite a bit during the rest of that session, and certainly in the second interview. Now I stand here 12 years later. How could you have reasonably expected it to go any better than it did. He's been everything you could ever ask for in a head coach and we'll appreciate that.
He's a Hall of Fame coach, a Hall of Fame person. He leaves big shoes to fill.
One thing he did not mention was that when Steve and I talked to him yesterday, I asked him would he consider staying on in some capacity. I don't want to let all that knowledge walk out the door. I asked him to think about over the next few days ways that he might be able to help us going forward.
He agreed to do that. I don't think either one of us have an idea yet exactly what form that could take. Let's face it, he brings a unique perspective. He knows our team as well as anybody. He knows the league as well as anybody. There may be some capacity in which he could help us.
This is not a situation where we wanted to see him walk out the door. We want him to stay involved because of everything he has brought to this organization, everything he could still possibly do at some point in the future.
I think back over the last 12 years how many times people had him dead and buried and fired, including a lot of the people in this room. I'm very thankful that he was able to persevere, that we were all able to persevere through that and go through the 12 years we had, all the success we had, all the professionalism he brought to this organization. I just can't think of anybody who could have done a better job.
He walks out the door with his head held high. We're very grateful for everything that he's done.
So with that, I'm sure you have some questions, so...
Q. Who first broached the idea it might be time for Tom to leave?
JOHN MARA: He walked in to meet with Steve and I yesterday. He first broached it, but I would say it was not a contentious discussion. All good things come to an end at some point in time.
Coaches in this league that last 12 years are pretty rare. It's been a great 12 years, even though the last few years have been disappointing. But I think it was as much mutual as anything else. But he was the one who came to us.
Q. 2011, Wayne Weaver, when he sold Jacksonville, said his biggest regret was firing Tom Coughlin. What leads you to believe that you won't be saying the same thing someday?
JOHN MARA: First of all, I wouldn't characterize it as a firing. Secondly, I could very well be saying that.
Listen, we had 12 great years. All good things have to come to at end at some point in time. But I can never begin to repay him for everything he's done for this franchise.
Q. Do you have any ideas for what kind of role he might be able to take in the organization?
JOHN MARA: Some sort of advisory capacity on the personnel side. Obviously we have a lot of holes to fill. I think he brings a unique perspective to that having coached a lot of these players, having coached against a lot of players in the league. I think he's always been a very good talent evaluator.
Q. John, what would you say to the roster that Tom was given this year, the close losses, the defensive problems, a roster that was lacking in some talent?
JOHN MARA: Obviously it was lacking in some talent, especially at 6-10. We have some holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. No question about that. You can't hide from the record. The record indicates we do not have enough championship-caliber players. That's on us.
Q. What differentiates Tom from a general manager in that thought process?
JOHN MARA: Listen, Tom said we win as a team, we lose as a team. Everybody's involved in those personnel decisions. We obviously missed the boat. Some of our draft classes were not as productive as we hoped they would be. I think that's primarily the cause of why we're standing here today talking about this.
Q. (Question regarding personnel.)
JOHN MARA: We are. I had numerous conversations with Jerry about that. We need to look at where have we missed the boat on some of these things, where we can do better, what do we need to change, are our standards too rigid, are they not rigid enough.
The last couple of drafts have been much more productive. But we had a few in there where we just haven't seen the production. Your core players are your third, fourth, fifth-year players. If you look back at those draft classes, there's not a lot of them that are playing right now.
Q. Do you plan to make any changes on the personnel side?
JOHN MARA: That remains to be seen. That will be a subject of discussion going forward.
Q. There was a consideration in '07 how long to stick with Tom. In '11 it started to bubble up, struggling again. Both times the team returns and wins the Super Bowl. How much in the last couple of years were you wrestling with maybe the team is going to flip the switch because he had done it before?
JOHN MARA: That's a fair statement. He had done it before, so I thought he can could do it again. At the end of the day we didn't provide him with enough talent.
JOHN MARA: I certainly would have been willing to hear him out. I don't want to speculate on what the outcome would have been. It was a good, healthy, but friendly discussion. That's where we are today.
Q. Do you have a timetable for finding a new coach?
JOHN MARA: There's no specific timetable. Obviously you want to do it sooner than later. Obviously staffs get filled. There's other teams out there looking for coaches. We need to get moving on it and that starts right away.
Q. How extensive will the search be and will Ben and Steve be considered?
JOHN MARA: I mean, the search will be extensive. I'm not going to talk about specific candidates other than to say both our coordinators, both Ben and Steve, will be interviewed. There will be a number of other candidates, as well. Again, I don't want to get into speculating about who they might be.
Q. What have you seen from Ben in these two years?
JOHN MARA: I think our offense certainly improved. I think he's proven himself to be a very good teacher, has a very good handle on our offense. I think he communicates very well. I think he shows some leadership skills. I think he has some good qualities.
Q. How much does changing the offense factor in?
JOHN MARA: It's certainly a factor. At the end of the day you have to get the right man for the job. That can't be the overriding determination.
Q. John, when you changed coaches 12 years ago, the feeling seemed to be you wanted a culture change in the organization. Doesn't sound like you want to change much from the Coughlin era. Are you concerned about bringing in someone from the outside, undergoing a radical change here?
JOHN MARA: That's always something you have to think about. All coaches have their own philosophies. There's not one philosophy that's the correct one. I mean, there are a lot of different ways you can win.
Certainly we were comfortable with Tom's style and his philosophy. Does the next guy have to be exactly the same? No, he does not. He just has to be somebody we're comfortable with and someone we can win with.
Q. Would it help if they had previous Giants ties?
JOHN MARA: It's a factor, but it's not a requirement going forward. We're certainly willing to look at somebody from the outside.
Q. Would you be open to possibly creating a draft pick, talk to somebody in particular?
JOHN MARA: We haven't had that discussion yet. I wouldn't completely rule that out. There are a lot of good candidates out there.
Q. Will this be a collaborative effort like last time, you and Jerry?
JOHN MARA: Jerry and I will do the initial interviews. At some point Steve and possibly other members of the Tisch family will get to meet the final candidates. We'll do it pretty much the same way Ernie and I did it in '04: do the initial interviews and come back with a recommendation.
Q. How much is age an issue? You mentioned you failed him with the roster.
JOHN MARA: Age is not a factor. I learned from George Young a long time ago, it's energy level. And nobody had more energy than Tom.
Q. You heard what current and former players have had to say about Tom, then the press conference he just held. Saying good-bye to Tom Coughlin as your head coach, does this feel like a weighty time, it's a big decision, we have to get it right?
JOHN MARA: It is a big decision. We've had three losing years in a row. Let's be honest, we've lost some credibility as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row like that, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It's up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.
Q. How would you answer the direct question of, why does Tom Coughlin leave and Jerry Reese stay?
JOHN MARA: Listen, we've had three losing years in a row. A lot of that is due to some personnel decisions that have been made.
But I still believe that Jerry Reese is the right guy to lead us going forward. Why do I believe that? Jerry put together two Super Bowl-winning teams. I would venture to say if we were to poll all of you in this room two years ago about who the top general managers in the league are, every one of you in here would have him on your list.
So now two years later, after another bad season, do we want to throw all that out? I still think he's capable of putting a great team together and he's going to get that opportunity.
To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we're going to discuss that. But I still have full confidence in him.
Q. John, couldn't you also say a lot of those similar things about Tom Coughlin?
JOHN MARA: Absolutely. Absolutely. Listen, his record speaks for itself.
Q. But he's the one out?
JOHN MARA: 12 years is a long time to be a head coach in the NFL. It's just time. It's just time. I think he realized it more so than anybody else.
Q. You feel you needed a new voice, is that part of it?
JOHN MARA: I don't know that we need a new voice necessarily. I can't say that the players didn't compete hard. You look at the game on Sunday, which was really a microcosm of our entire season. I don't have any problem with the effort there.
I was at practice during the week. I watched them. The effort was there. They still pay attention to him. They still respond to him. But we need some more players.
Q. How do you balance the goal of trying to win Super Bowl championships with the consistency of trying to get to the playoffs each year? You've gone through a 12-year stretch where you made the playoffs five times, but only two Super Bowl titles. What are you looking for?
JOHN MARA: The first thing we have to do is obviously find the right guy to lead our organization as a head coach. But we need to bring some more players in here, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. That's where we were obviously lacking this year.
Jerry knows this is on him. I've had that discussion. You can't hide from the record. It's up to you now to get it fixed because the last three years are just not acceptable.
Q. You said Steve Spagnuolo is going to get an interview. Is that a sign you believe he did a good job?
JOHN MARA: I think he did the best he could with what he had. I want to hear from him what he felt about how we performed there, what improvements he would make going forward. He'll have that opportunity to explain that.
Q. Each of the last three years, there's a coordinator, coordinator, head coach leaving. We talk about Jerry Reese, this being on him. Is it fair to put him on the 'hot seat'?
JOHN MARA: No matter what I say, I'm sure you're all going to put him on that hot seat.
He knows what the expectations are. He knows we're not impulsive and we don't make rash, illogical decisions. He's done it before, I believe he can do it again. That's the bottom line.
Q. The general manager position is something that hasn't turned over frequently. Is that a philosophical decision on your part?
JOHN MARA: I think that's part of our philosophy. If you still believe that the person has what it takes to build a winning team, you have to stay with him, you have to ride through the highs and lows and give him a chance. And he's going to have that opportunity.
Q. You spoke of the personnel department, has that been ongoing? Do you anticipate changes made to Jerry's staff?
JOHN MARA: Not necessarily. Again, that will be the source of ongoing discussions. We'll see where we go with that.
Q. John, are you open to a new head coach who is going to come in and might want to have more of a say in personnel?
JOHN MARA: You say 'more of a say.' This coach had as much of a say as any head coach we ever had. I cannot think of any personnel decisions that we made in the last 12 years that Tom was against. He did not have any players forced upon him at all.
They worked together very, very well. They had a great respect. There was a mutual respect there. I mean, it was very, very rare they had any disagreements about personnel.
Q. You talk about losing credibility as an organization. There's talk on the outside that this is a plum job, a job that people would want. Do you view it as such?
JOHN MARA: I hope so. I hope that people would recognize with the Tisch family and my family we have stable ownership here that is patient. We have a franchise quarterback sitting right here in the second row. There's not a lot of organizations that can say that. So, yeah, I'd like to say that.
Q. Would you consider a college coach?
JOHN MARA: Of course.
Q. Would you encourage a new coach coming in, if it's not Ben McAdoo, to retain Ben McAdoo as the offensive coordinator?
JOHN MARA: We would certainly make recommendations to them. But at the end of the day you have to let the head coach determine who he's going to be on his staff.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports