The pound of meat was delivered as requested. The hapless and hopeless manager was exiled. The overwhelmed head coach was fired. The masses have their red meat and they can enjoy devouring it in the moment, enjoying it, swallowing it. That was the easy part.
Now comes the hard part.
Now comes the part in which John Mara and Steve Tisch have to begin their best hour as co-owners of the Giants. There is no other way. The next few weeks have to produce a general manager with vision and a coach who can implement this foresight. The coming months must bring a rich concept and an offseason acquisition strategy that lays a competent and strong foundation.
“I said before the start of the season that I wanted to feel good about the direction we were going as we played our final game of the season,” Mara said in a statement released by the team. “Unfortunately, I can’t make that statement, which is why we made that decision. We will hire a general manager and that person will lead efforts to hire a new head coach. “
It’s clear that the Giants’ late-season transformation from a lousy standard football team to a league-wide embarrassment played at least some part in the owners’ thinking of how it should have been. Gettleman was gone anyway when the team started 0-3 and 1-5 and 3-7. Judge was a tough call.
He was a young coach who actually showed promise as a rookie. He was a branch of the Bill Belichick coaching tree that doesn’t exactly have a history of wealth, but Belichicks is one of the most revered names in the Giants offices. And for a team that hates being viewed as the revolving door of instability, firing a third coach in a row (after Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur) after two years on the job was a dyspeptic option.
2022 John Mara is never confused with 1982 George Steinbrenner.
But Judge left him and Tisch no choice on the matter, and his 11-minute filibuster after the Giants doors were blown in Chicago week 17 only made this more apparent. The franchise had become a laughing stock everywhere except New York – where fans were flushed with anger.
So Mara and Tisch swung the axe.
If that goes against the type, fine: we need to see more of that. We’ve already seen the owners pledge to do what everyone in the NFL shouted out to do: look off campus on 1925 Giants Drive, look at other successful operations, open the door for new voices and perspectives.
The names popping up in the past two days – including Joe Schoen from Buffalo, Ryan Poles from Kansas City, Adam Peters and Ran Carthon from San Francisco – were a first progressive signal that they understood what to do and where they had to go. It was clear that Giants executive director Kevin Abrams would not be part of the process, another sign.
And when they committed, it was only a matter of time.
Now comes the hard part. Now comes the hard work. The Mara-Tisch partnership has produced two Lombardi Trophies, proving they are a working duo in the team headquarters lobby. When Jerry Reese fell out of favor later during his tenure as GM, it was the first joint decision the two men made in 2006 — along with retaining Tom Coughlin — and every member of Reese’s first draft class played for the champions from 2007.
That the selection of pedestrians they’ve made since then – Gettleman, McAdoo, Shurmur, Judge – has been disastrous doesn’t take away those trophies, doesn’t erase from the record books what the Giants have done. They now get their mulligan. They get their do-over. They have to get this right, just as Wellington and Tim Mara finally got it right on Valentine’s Day 1979, the day George Young – a family misfit – became a GM during another football famine.
It was just as difficult for John Mara’s old man and cousin to make that decision as it was for him and his partner, Tisch, to make that decision. The Giants were reborn in 1979 and became champions within seven years — but only because they picked the right man, Young, who picked the right coach, Bill Parcells, and ultimately a bunch of good players.
That was the hard part. The Maras got this part even then. Forty-three years later, it’s up to John Mara and Steve Tisch to channel this ancient path. You are now on the clock. And the whole league is watching.
This post first appeared on Nypost.com