The New York Giants have been in the hands of the Mara family for almost their entire history.
Among NFL teams, only the Chicago Bears have been family-owned longer than the Giants, with John Mara currently co-managing the franchise his grandfather bought in 1925.
Two attempts to bring professional football to New York City failed in the late 1910s and early 1920s – one by the New York Giants baseball team and the other by boxing promoter Billy Gibson.
The first version of the franchise never made it onto the field, while the second became known as the Brooklyn Giants or Brickley’s New York Giants after their head coach, Charles Brickley.
Brickley’s team failed in 1923, but failure didn’t stop then-NFL President Joe Carr from trying again.
Carr was aware that football needed a presence in a large market to survive while at the time it was still overshadowed by other sports.
Then bookmaker Tim Mara came into play, paying $500 to restore the failed Giants when Gibson refused to lend his money again for the risky endeavor.
Tim knew nothing about the game but hoped that his knowledge of business and sports would lead the company to success.
“The Giants were born out of a combination of raw strength and ignorance,” Tim Mara later said in John Eisenberg’s The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire.
“The players provided the raw power and I provided the ignorance.”
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The Giants struggled financially over the next decade, but clinched their first NFL title in just the team’s third NFL season.
With the help of his two sons, Jack and Wellington, Tim steered the franchise through the Great Depression and World War II, winning two more championships along the way, in 1934 and 1938.
He also fended off attempts by other franchises to enter the NYC pro football market and outlasted the Brooklyn Tigers, Brooklyn Dodgers and two teams trading as the New York Yankees.
The Giants won four titles before Tim’s death in 1959.
Jack and Wellington then led the team to two Super Bowl victories in 1986 and 1990.
And they added two more championships after John, Wellington’s son, took over the presidency in 2005 and triumphed in 2007 and 2011 with Eli Manning at quarterback.
All these years later forbes estimates the Giants’ worth at $6 billion — 12 times the money Tim Mara paid for the franchise.
The Mara family has owned only 50 percent of the team since Preston Robert Tisch bought the other half from John’s cousin in 1991.
Still, the Maras hold a special place in NFL history thanks to the brilliant business their grandfather struck nearly a century ago.