The legacy of the great was remembered recently during a special “Hometown Hall of Famers™” ceremony at Loyola School in New York City. Wellington not only attended the school and remained an active alum after graduation, but he also grew up across the street. On Friday, Nov. 22, students, staff, alumni, NFL executives (including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell), and Mara’s extended family joined with representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company as they gathered to pay tribute to one of the most influential owners in NFL history.
Loyola School Principal Tony Oroszlany served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, bringing to life the major impact that Mara had on the school. He reminisced about meeting Mara at several school events and fundraisers, and how it was clear that Loyola School always held a special place in his heart.
Allstate agency owner Tony Pomponio took the mic next, and not only had the crowd cheering for the Giants, but also incorporated several quotes attesting to Wellington’s character and the lasting impact he had made on the city. He ended his speech by telling the crowd, “It is truly an honor for me to be here today on behalf of our Big Blue family and present this special plaque to your Big Blue family.”
George Veras, President and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises served a double role as the Pro Football Hall of Fame representative and also the plaque presenter. “The Mara family is an integral part of the fabric of the history of the NFL, but also set a standard of honor and humility that is equally legendary and has been carried forward by his son John and the rest of the Mara family that we present this plaque to today” said Veras.
Mara’s son, John, current President and CEO of the New York Giants, was on hand to accept the plaque on his late father’s behalf. He explained to the crowd how Wellington prided himself on being a lifelong New Yorker, and that having the plaque live at Loyola, and knowing how much the school and its Manhattan neighborhood truly impacted his life made it something to cherish even more. “This school meant so much to my father, and he spoke of it frequently. This is why having this plaque installed here at Loyola School is so special to my family.”
A New York native, Mara was the son of the late Timothy J. Mara, who founded the Giants in 1925. From a young age, Mara’s entire life was devoted to NFL football. After graduating from Loyola School, Mara went on to attend Fordham University where he continued to be involved with the Giants and helped draft and sign future Hall of Famer Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans in 1936. Mara officially joined the Giants in 1937 as a part-time assistant to the president, eventually working his way up to president in 1965.
Mara was one of the most respected and knowledgeable executives and owners in pro football history. Thanks in large part to his extensive experience and skill in organization, player personnel, trading and drafting, the Giants became a powerhouse team in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Giants won six divisional championships and the 1956 NFL title during an eight-year span from 1956 to 1963. Over the course of his 68-season tenure, Mara helped produce 16 NFL/NFC divisional titles and four NFL championships including victories in Super Bowl XXI and XXV.
From 1984 to 2005, Mara served as President of the National Football Conference. He had also served on the Hall of Fame and realignment committees, as co-chairman of the long-range planning committee and on the NFL Management Council’s executive committee. Mara was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 89.
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