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Wellington Mara became known as one of the most influential people in NFL history, and his story began in Rochester, New York when he was born in 1916. Wellington’s father, Timothy James, was the founder of the New York Giants, and in 1930, he split ownership interests between his sons: Wellington and Jack.
After he graduated from Fordham University, Wellington became an essential part of the Giants organization. He started out as a treasurer and assistant. A decade later, he was promoted to the team’s secretary, before deporting for World War II. When he came back, he was again moving up in the franchise’s hierarchy. He became vice president in 1958 when his father died, and then reached presidency when his brother Jack died in 1965.
At the beginning of his tenure as the Giants’ team president, he made everyday decisions for the organization, but eventually, Mara’s involvement in league business grew, and he decided to give way to Andy Robustelli for daily alterations in 1974. And then five years later, he moved George Young to become the franchise’s first official general manager.
During Wellington’s control, the Giants were one of the most dominant organizations in league history, consistently reaching the playoffs and beyond. They won six NFL titles including two Super Bowl victories and nine conference championships including six NFC championships. Bob Tisch, who was hired by Mara in 1991, also became an integral part of the team’s success.
Unfortunately, Wellington and Tisch both died in 2005, about three weeks away from one another, and gave way to their sons – John Mara and Steve Tisch – who have captured a pair of Super Bowl victories over the New England Patriots since. In 1997, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and 15 years later, he was elected into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
“To anyone who has ever been a Giant, this is the saddest of days … Mara was a wonderful and generous man. He was a major influence in my life, and I was proud to have his as a friend,” Bill Parcells said following Mara’s death. Parcells won Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990 with the Giants, and like most people Wellington came to know, they loved him.