To say John Mara is cautiously optimistic about the New York Giants’ offseason would be an understatement.
The New York Giants’ co-owner won’t allow himself to get caught up in the mostly positive reviews the team has received for an offseason in which it seemed to make a pair of strong hires in General Manager Dave Gettleman and coach John Mara, did solid drafting, and had good attendance for voluntary workouts.
‘We were 3-13 last year and I haven’t quite erased that taste from my mouth’
How good? With offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and cornerback Eli Apple — all with various issues that figured to keep them away — on hand, the feeling is that there is some good buy-in to Shurmur’s program. But Mara is taking a more careful approach.
“We’ll see. So far, so good,” he told Alex Marvez at the NFL spring meeting in Atlanta this week. “We were 3-13 last year and I haven’t quite erased that taste from my mouth, but I like what we’ve done so far. I like the team that we have. I think we had a good draft and did some good things in the offseason, so we’ll see.
‘I’ve been around long enough to know this is May and a lot of things can happen’
“I like the attitude that I see around our facility right now. People seem to be working together, people seem to be getting along, people seem to have bought into Pat Shurmur’s message. And, as I said, so far, so good. But I’ve been around long enough to know this is May and a lot of things can happen. But I like the direction that we’re going in right now.”
Mara touched on other league-wide topics:
‘We need to reduce the injury rate’
On new kickoff rules designed to shrink the space and lower the speed of the play. “It’s certainly going to look a little different. I think it could lead to more returns and maybe more exciting returns, given the restrictions on how you can block. I think our hope has been to try to preserve the play and save the play, because it is an exciting play. But we need to reduce the injury rate. It was the most dangerous play that we have in this game, so we brought a lot of coaches together — special-teams coaches, head coaches — and worked out a new scheme, which I think is going to work. But it’s going to be adopted for one-year only. We’ll take a look at it and if any adjustments need to be made, we’ll look at doing that next year.”
On the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that opens the door to national legalized gambling. “We’re all a little concerned about how it’s going to work. I think the commissioner, in asking Congress to enact some regulations to make sure that the states regulate this thing a little bit more. I’m a little concerned about there being 20 different ways of making bets and 20 different states doing different things. We’re going to have to see what happens with it. Some people think it’ll be a positive because it’ll increase viewership. I’m more concerned about the social aspects of it, whether it’s just going to feed people’s addictions and lead to more social problems. I’ve never been a proponent of it, but obviously we know it exists, we know people do bet on games. I think it’s going to certainly increase now that it will become legal. And we just would like to see some regulations imposed.”
‘We all hope that our players stand for the anthem this year’
On the NFL’s national anthem policy (which he addressed before owners finalized it). “It’s an issue that is very divisive, people on both sides of it. … Certainly, we all hope that our players stand for the anthem this year. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
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