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John Mara: Fans won’t need vaccine proof, for now, and more takeaways

Giants co-owner addresses wide variety of topics

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants
John Mara
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Following news that the Las Vegas Raiders will require fans attending their home games to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, New York Giants co-owner John Mara was asked if a similar edict was coming at MetLife Stadium.

“As of now there’s no plans to do that,” Mara said. “If you ask me that question in a week or two I may give you a different answer. That will depend on our discussions with the governor’s office and per guidance of the CDC.”

Mara said “well over 90 percent” of Giants players have been vaccinated.

“I prefer that everybody be vaccinated. I would’ve preferred that it would have been mandatory for players to get vaccinated, but the Players Association did not share that view, so we are where we are, which is not a bad spot to be in,” Mara said. “We’re over 90 percent. Obviously, I’d like it to be 100 percent because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Here are more takeaways from Mara’s Tuesday press conference with Giants media.

Expectations for 2021

It’s not playoffs or bust, but Mara wants to see a better product that than they Giants have put on the field the past four seasons.

“I certainly think we’re a lot better on paper. I’d like to see us win more games and make the playoffs,” he said. “I want to see us make progress and become a winning team again. We’re overdue on that and we spent a lot of money in free agency. I think we’ve had a couple of really productive drafts, now it’s time to prove it on the field.”

Dave Gettleman’s future

The extension of talking about expectations for 2021 is what happens to general manager Dave Gettleman if the Giants don’t win enough games?

“We’re all on the hot seat, with our fans in particular,” Mara said. “We’ve given them too many losing seasons. It’s time for us to start winning more games.”

The Giants have gone 15-33 during Gettleman’s first three seasons. Mara said he will assess whether “major changes’ need to be made once the season is over.

“I’ll look at that at the end of the season and see whether I think we’re continuing to make progress and moving in the right direction, but I’m not issuing a playoff mandate. I don’t think those ever do you any good,” Mara said. “I don’t think I need to say or do anything to motivate the people in this building any more than they’re already motivated. They all want to win.”

As he did a year ago, Mara said he wants to feel at the end of the season that the franchise is headed in the right direction.

“When I walk off the field after the last game, whenever that is, I want to feel like, do we have a chance to win a Super Bowl with this group? Does this group give us a chance to win the Super Bowl? Are we moving in that direction?,” Mara said. “If the answer to that is yes, then we’re not going to consider making any changes. If I feel like we’re going backwards, that’s another discussion.”

As he has previously, Mara said he likes the way Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge work together.

“I do think Dave and Joe have made a lot of good decisions,” he said. “I feel good about this team.”

Mara said despite being 6-10 a year ago, he thought progress was made.

“I felt like despite the record, I felt like we were making progress and I think with the additions that we’ve made this past offseason, I still feel that way,” he said. “I feel good about this team right now.”

“The right guy”

Mara has no doubts that the Giants have the right head coach with Joe Judge.

“He exudes confidence, but his attention to detail and the way the players respond to him I think is something that adds to my level of confidence, as well. He demonstrates leadership. He demonstrates – he sees the big picture,” Mara said. “He has an appreciation, strong appreciation for the history of this franchise. That’s why you see the former players coming back all the time that he’s invited. I’m convinced that we have the right guy at the helm.”

The much-discussed offensive line

Of course Mara was asked about the offensive line.

“I have confidence in that group. Did we do enough? I think time will tell. I think we’re always looking to improve where we can. Do we have enough depth there? I’m not sure about that yet.”

Mara understands that there is “skepticism” in the fan base and the media about the offensive line.

“I think all five of the starters, plus a couple of the backups are good quality players. I know our coaching staff feels good about them,” he said. “Obviously, there’s going to be skepticism about them until they do it on the field and they start producing some complete games and some wins. I do like the people that we have up there, and I do have confidence in them.”

Odell trade

The Giants are heading to Cleveland this week, which means they will see Odell Beckham Jr. Mara was asked about the 2019 trade of Beckham to the Browns.

“I think it’s a trade that’ll work out well for both sides,” Mara said. “Obviously, the players that we added have been big contributors for us. I expect Odell to have a great season. I still have a great relationship with him, I’ve texted with him. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

The Daniel Jones decision

With Jones in his third season, the Giants will soon face a choice — pay Jones an extraordinary amount of money, or move on from him and begin a new search for a franchise quarterback.

“Hopefully he’ll make it an easy decision for us by the end of the year,” Mara said. “We need to see more wins, but I do have a lot of confidence in Daniel. One of the things that gives me that confidence is the way that the coaches in this building feel about him. They love him. They love everything about him, we just have to win some games now. I like everything that I see on the field with him. I like his leadership, I like his work ethic, I like the way the players respond to him. We just have to win some games now.”