In 1925, it was apparent the National Football League needed a “showcase” franchise. League president Joe Carr went to New York to offer fight promoter Billy Gibson, a franchise. Gibson wasn't interested but he introduced Carr to a friend, Tim Mara. When Mara learned he could get a franchise for $500, he commented: "A New York franchise to operate anything ought to be worth $500."
The 1925 Giants went 8-4 and finished fourth in a 20-team league but they couldn't dent the fans' enthusiasm for college football. Undaunted, Mara tried to sign college superstar Red Grange only to find the Chicago Bears had beaten him to the punch. Still, Grange was important to Mara's future in football. When the Grange-led Bears played in New York’s Polo Grounds in December 1925, a sellout crowd saw the game and Mara netted a reported $143,000.
The future of pro football in New York was assured. Mara's euphoria was short-lived because, in 1926, Grange and his manager, C. C. Pyle, formed a new league with a New York franchise to compete with the Giants. Mara lost heavily, but the new league lost more and went out of business. The next year, the Giants went 11-1-1 and Tim had his first championship.
Mara had known hard times as a youngster so, when New York Mayor Jimmy Walker approached him in the depression year of 1930 about playing a charity exhibition game, he quickly agreed. The Giants defeated the Notre Dame All-Stars, 21-0, and Mara unselfishly turned over a check for $115,153 to the New York City Unemployment Fund.
In the 1940s, Mara again had to endure another inter-league war, this time with the All-America Football Conference. Once again, Mara won, strengthening what would become one of pro football’s most successful and storied franchises, and one of sport’s elite organizations.