With the Giants in the NFC championship game, this seems like a good time to tell my Wellington Mara story.
I started at The Journal News in 1999 as a general assignment sports reporter. I did everything from boxing to baseball with a healthy dose of high school sports.
One Saturday I was assigned to cover the Iona Prep football team. Their quarterback proved to be the focus of the story and I spent a few minutes after the game interviewing the young man.
The next day’s assignment was to write a sidebar on the Giants game. I was thrilled to go and got to Giants Stadium early, so early that there were only a few other reporters in the press box. I introduced myself to the public relations staff and took my seat, intending to read the Sunday paper.
A few minutes later, one of the PR people tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mr. Mara wanted to see me. Mr. Mara? What had I done?
I was escorted to his office, somewhat terrified. But when I got there, he held up The Journal News and thanked me for the story I had written on Iona Prep. That quarterback, as it turned out, was his grandson. I had no idea and the young man was too modest to have mentioned it. Mr. Mara, who lived in Westchester, followed our high school coverage quite closely.
Mr. Mara and I chatted for a few minutes and I went back to my seat. I covered a few Giants game in 2000 before I got a baseball beat and every time I had a chance, I said hello to him. He was always friendly and gracious.
It’s a shame Mr. Mara isn’t still alive to see his team in this game today. But I’m sure the Giants and the people around that organization have him in mind.