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Quotes (12/4): President and CEO John K. Mara

Posted Dec 4, 2017

Giants President and CEO John Mara announces the dismissal of Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese:


President and Chief Executive Officer John K. Mara

Opening Statement: As you all know by now, I met this morning with Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo and relieved both of them of their responsibilities. Just to give you the chronology of what happened – Steve Tisch and I met after the game yesterday and agreed to talk this morning, which we did and we agreed that wholesale changes needed to be made to this organization to get us back to the team that we expect to be and we also agreed that it was pointless to wait any longer to make these changes. I met with Jerry Reese at approximately 10:30 a.m. this morning. That’s as difficult a meeting as I’ve ever had. Jerry has been here since 1994. He is homegrown. Started out as a part-time scout and rose all the way through the ranks to become our general manager and to become the general manager for two Super Bowl teams. I thanked him on behalf of Steve and myself for everything he’s done for this organization. I told him that I have no doubt that he will get another shot with another franchise and that at some point in time, I’m going to be answering questions from people about why I got rid of him in the first place. I then met with Kevin Abrams and asked him to serve as our interim general manager for the rest of the season and if he chooses to be a candidate for the full time position. Kevin agreed to do that. Then met with Ben McAdoo and thanked him for everything he has done for us, for all of his hard work, for the professional matter in which he’s conducted himself. I also feel that he will be a successful head coach at some point in the future. I think he’s going to learn from his experience here and he’ll go on to be a successful head coach. Both of these men - contrary to what their public persona is sometimes - have been complete professionals here. They always make decisions looking out for what they believe is in the best long term interest of the franchise. They never complain about anything. They don’t politic around the office. They communicate well with one another and that’s something that I’m very grateful to both of them for. I met with Steve Spagnuolo after these meetings. Asked him to serve as the interim head coach and also to be a candidate to be the head coach after the season if he chooses to do so. He agreed to do that. I then met with all the assistant coaches and told them that my expectation is for them to continue to work hard to get these players ready to play in these last four games. I told them I would not put up with any talk in this building about tanking or anything else and I expected us to go out and try to win these games. I expected their best efforts to try to get us to do that. In terms of our general manager search – that starts right away. I have asked Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant in this process. He’s agreed to do that. So, we expect to get started right away on that. Ideally, you like to have the general manager in place first before the head coach. That’s not always going to be the case, but that would be the ideal scenario. So with that, I will entertain some of your questions.

Q: What was the final straw for you with Jerry Reese in terms of why you wanted to make the decision now?

A: I don’t think there was any one final straw. I just think that where we are as a franchise right now, you know, we’re 2-10. We’ve kind of been spiraling out of control. I just felt like we needed a complete overhaul. I don’t think there was any one event or one final act to precipitate that.

Q: How much did the Eli Manning situation play into this decision?

A: Really had no effect whatsoever. 2-10 is 2-10 and obviously the public reaction to that was not pleasant, but that really didn’t have any effect on our decision.

Q: Have you spoken to Steve Spagnuolo and does he have any intent to go back to Eli Manning as the starting quarterback?

A: I’ve spoken to Steve and he’s still trying to come to grips with this whole thing. He wants to talk to his offensive staff and he’s going to talk to Kevin (Abrams) and myself. Ultimately, it’s going to be his decision as to who to play at quarterback.

Q: Are you embarrassed in general with what’s happened to the franchise this season?

A: Of course I’m embarrassed. 2-10. There’s no defense for that. Particularly when expectations were so high, and I understand that – listen, we had a ridiculous number of injuries. It’s the first time in my life that I think I sat at a game having to constantly look at the flip card to try and determine who we were playing. But, that being said, we still started out 0-5 with a relatively healthy roster up until that fifth game when all of our wide receivers got hurt. So, yeah, I’m embarrassed about that. That’s one of the reasons I’m standing here.

Q: Are you committing to a division between personnel and coaching or can they cross?

A: My very strong preference is to maintain that traditional separation, but again, I would never say never if the right candidate was there.

Q: Do you regret the decision that was made with Eli Manning and the plan to use Geno Smith? It seemed like you weren’t on the same page.

A: I mean, we were and we weren’t. Ben came up with the plan. I initially signed off on the plan. My hope had been to talk to him to try to have a little more flexibility with it. Not have a hard, fast time when he was going to come out of the game. But, by then Eli rightfully had rejected the notion only starting and playing the half and coming out. We issued a statement and it was just too late at that point.

Q: Did you consider firing Ben McAdoo on Wednesday?

A: No.

Q: What changed between when you put out a statement three weeks ago saying there were not going to be any in-season changes, to now?

A: I changed my mind, we changed our minds. Given all the events that occurred, where we are as a franchise right now. To be honest with you, it became more and more apparent that we were going to have to do something at the end of the season, so we talked after the game and again this morning about, why prolong it any longer? Why not just get it done now? I’m very conscious of the fact that three of our last four games are at home. I’m conscious, having lived through it before, of what the reaction was going to be. Also, gives us somewhat of a tactical advantage, allowing us to start looking at general managers right now rather than waiting until the end of the season.

Q: Were you aware of Ben’s plan to start and play Eli for the first half, and Geno in the second before he actually went and presented it to Eli?

A: That seems to be the focus of everybody’s attention right now. The plan was, Ben was going to talk to Eli and tell him that he was going to start and play the first half and Geno would play the second half.  I signed off on that. But, again, my hope was two things: one, that I was going to speak to Ben and try to get him to be a little bit more flexible about that all. I do not like interfering with coaching decisions about who’s going to play, I’ve never done that before. I also, as I said I think the other day to you guys, was hoping that Eli would be playing so well, it’d be impossible to take him out. In any event, it is where it is and you ought to stop blaming Ben and Jerry on that. If you want to blame me, go ahead and do it. I certainly have the power to overrule them if I wanted to, I chose not to do it.

Q: There are reports that Manning will start this week, are they true?

A: There’s no decision, to my knowledge, that’s been made on that yet. I’d assume [Spagnuolo] will run it by me before he makes that decision.

Q: Do you believe the coaching staff will still plan on giving quarterback Davis Webb an opportunity this season?

A: I mean, I’m hopeful that at some point he gets into the game, but right now, to be honest with you, after all this losing I’m just as focused on trying to win some of these games as anything else.

Q: After an 11-5 season and playoff appearance last season, how did all of this go so wrong so quickly?

A: That’s a good question, one that we’re trying to figure out right now. I was very confident about this roster, as I think most of the people in this room were heading into this season. I thought it was as talented a roster as we’ve had here in a long time. We were coming off an 11-5 season, our defense was basically the same, our offense was supposed to be better. We had added some receivers and a tight end, a couple of tight ends. We were supposed to be better. We got off to a very poor start on offense, our defense did not play as well as they could have and then everybody got hurt. It’s really, and I’ve used this expression, it was the perfect storm. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong so far this season and it’s just one of those things you have to live through and suck it up and make whatever changes you have to make and go on.

Q: How much did Reese not improving the offensive line in the offseason ultimately cost him?

A: Well, it’s more where we are as a team right now. It wasn’t that specifically. We had pretty much the same offensive line last year and even though our offense was not particularly good last year, it was good enough to win 11 games. We thought that group would take a step forward this year and even now, half of them have gotten hurt, it’s just been an impossible situation.

Q: How important is it for the new general manager and head coach to have better communication skills with players and everybody in the building that what you had?

A: Well, first of all, Ben and Jerry Reese communicated very well. And Jerry and I communicated very well together. I usually don’t have that much interaction with the head coach because I like that to be the general manager’, because that’s always been the way I’ve done it. Jerry communicated very well with players. One of the things that I liked about him the most is he’s not afraid to call a player out if he didn’t feel like he was playing up to his potential. And Ben, I thought communicated pretty well. Listen, I’ve spoken to players over the past few weeks, a handful of them, to try to get a handle on whether guys were quitting, or whether they weren’t playing hard and that was not the message that I got back. I think that people felt that they were still playing hard and for most of the season, with an exception of a couple games that I can think of, I thought players did play hard.

Q: Having never been through this process with a general manager, do you feel like it has to be a total front office overhaul, or can a new general manager come in and keep the staff?

A: Well, I think that’s going to be largely up to the new GM. And we did go through this, back in ’07 when Jerry was hired. We kept most of the people and I’m not anticipating there being wholesale changes, but again, that’s largely going to be up to the new general manager.

Q: Would you shy away from hiring a new head coach that doesn’t have head coaching experience?

A: Not necessarily, it just depends on the candidate. I mean, there are a number of new head coaches that are very successful in this league this year, so you can’t shy away from that. If you think you have the right guy, you have to go for it.

Q: There is an expression, the Giant Way. How do you tell the fans that you haven’t lost your way during this season?

A: Listen Bruce, we’ve had an embarrassing season. I think most people that know me know how painful that is to me and know how committed I am in trying to put a winning team back on the field. I know our fans are suffering, but I’m suffering more, I guarantee it. We’ve gotten to the point where we felt like we had to make wholesale changes and that’s what we’ve done here.

Q: Is Steve Spagnuolo a candidate for the head coaching job moving forward or is that dependent on the new general manager?

A: Well, Steve (Tisch) and I have the final say on any head coaching decision, but that’s going to be largely dependent on what the new general manager has to say, yes.

Q: Where do you think it went wrong for Ben after making the playoffs last year?

A: As I said, I just think it ended up being a perfect storm for us. We got off to a bad start this year, particularly on offense. Our defense didn’t play as well as they played last year. We had leads in a few games and last year they would have held them and we would have won the game. They didn’t do that early on and then everybody got hurt. Listen, there were certain guys that on this roster that aren’t playing as well as they should be playing. 

Q: Was it just the record or were there other things?

A: Our team isn’t good enough, it’s obviously not good enough. We are 2-10.

Q: Do you expect to hire a new GM before the end of this season?

A: That’s possible. If the right candidate comes along, that’s possible. Obviously if we want to talk to somebody who’s currently employed, we would have to wait.

Q: Do you have names in mind?

A: We have names in mind, but I’m not going to go into the names right now.

Q: Do you regret the decision of hiring Ben?

A: I don’t think so. That’s semantics. I thought that he was the right guy for the job. We were 11-5 last year and everything looked great back in September and now it’s all fallen apart. We will obviously hire the best general manager we can and be very guided on what he has to say.

Q: Three months ago, you thought you’d be headed to the playoffs?

A: Yes. I’ve been around long enough not to get shocked by many things, but I certainly did not see this coming.

Q: Did you think about making this change last week?
A: No.

Q: How do you handle the draft process right now, if you don’t have that new GM in?

A: We will have the GM in long before the draft. Our scouts and Marc Ross our head of scouting, it’s business as usual for them. They’re going to keep doing what they’re doing. But that GM will be in place long before the draft.

Q: Was there any thought in giving Ben another chance?

A: That was certainly something we considered, but at the end of the day, we still felt like wholesale changes needed to be made.

Q: Is it a given that you will hire the general manger before the coach?

A: In all likelihood that will be the way it occurs, but I don’t ever want to say that it’s a definite. But in all likelihood that will be what happens.

Q: How much did the timing of doing it now rather than the end of the season play off of the fan reaction from last week?

A: Listen, I was certainly cognizant of what the fan reaction was likely to be over the last four weeks, but that wasn’t the final determining factor. We just reached a point where we felt, you know what, we’re going to be making these changes probably at the end of the season, so what’s the point in prolonging this any further.

Q: How will your perception of leadership of the men in the locker room change after this example?

A: If I understand your question correctly, listen, I do think we need some more leadership in the locker room for sure. But I think in terms of our priorities as an organization right now, let’s go out and find the best general manager and then let’s take it from there.

Q: How do you look at Odell’s (Beckham) future?

A: I certainly expect him to be a part of this team in the future, but that will be a discussion also with the incoming general manager and the incoming head coach and we’ll make whatever decision we think is appropriate going forward.

Q: What was Jerry and Ben’s reactions? Were they shocked?

A: I don’t think either one of them was shocked. I think they could not have been more professional. They both thanked me for the opportunity. My meeting with Jerry was a little more emotional just because we had a longer history together and because he’s meant so much to this organization. I’ve talked to him a couple times this morning and he thanked me for the opportunity and everything we have done for his family. I thanked him for everything he’s done here and that was not an easy meeting for me and it was not for him either.