The mistake the Giants can’t repeat in this crucial GM search

In a different life, an ownership battle was fought between the families running the New York Giants that could have devolved into a Hatfields-and-McCoys-like mess. John Mara’s brother Chris was up for the open general manager’s job in 2007, and his co-owner Steve Tisch wanted no part of it.

Tisch knew that a Mara would be a bulletproof GM, and the Oscar-winning film producer couldn’t accept that. Wellington Mara’s widow, Ann, blamed Tisch and brother Jonathan, the team treasurer, for blocking Chris’s bid. John broke the bad news to his devastated brother, a respected talent evaluator who had once left the organization to run his own scouting service and the Arena League team in New Jersey. The Giants instead replaced Ernie Accorsi, who was retiring, with Jerry Reese and won two Super Bowls over the next five seasons.

“This is the most unique situation in all of pro sports, with no majority or minority partners – a true 50-50 partnership,” Steve Tisch said before that first Super Bowl victory. “A situation like that can be very dysfunctional and very disruptive. We pay close attention to how it can start to unravel, and neither I nor John want it to unravel.”

Even though the Giants have unraveled since their last championship season in 2011, the owning partnership has remained intact. John is the overlord of football who lives in the office and on the practice field, and Steve is the overlord of everything else while traveling about. They communicate directly and frequently, and given that their Giants are 35 games under .500 over the past five seasons and losers of at least 10 games in seven of their last eight, they’ve had an awful lot to communicate about.