Ann Mara, considered the matriarch of the Giants for 60 years and called the “first lady of football,” died early Super Bowl Sunday, according to media reports, at the age of 85.
Here’s what you need to know the death of Ann Mara:
1. Ann Became Co-Owner After Her Husband, Wellington, Died
Wellington Mara, considered one of the most iconic figures in the history of football, took over the Giants from his father, Tim Mara, who founded the franchise in 1925.
Wellington married Ann, daughter of George and Olivia Mumm, in 1954. The two had 11 children, and 42 grandchildren.
When Wellington died in 2005, succumbing to lymphoma, Ann took over as co-owner of the Giants. She, along with her children, collectively owned 50 percent of the franchise.
Ann Mara once described how she and Wellington met at church in 1952:
“At 7:30 Mass, a little old lady fainted, and we both went to help revive her; that’s how we met. But I had spotted him before that. Our dates were at Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the Fordham gymnasium. That was my courtship.”
2. She Died After Slipping on Ice
In a statement posted on the Giants website, her son, John Mara, Giants’ president and chief executive officer, described his mother as the “leader” of the family:
“I am sad to say that our mother has passed away. She has been the leader of our family in every way, and we will miss her dearly.
She slipped in front of her home (in Rye, N.Y.) during the ice storm two weeks ago (January 18). She had been in the hospital since the following day, initially due to a head injury she suffered in her fall. After a few days, we were hopeful for her recovery, although we knew it would be a long road back. Unfortunately, there were complications.
She loved her family, and all of us were able to spend time with her in these final days. All 11 of her children and our spouses and numerous grandchildren were with her when she passed away.”
3. She Was Called ‘The First Lady of Football’
Known as a “feisty” woman and advocate for her team, Ann Mara once famously accosted broadcaster and former quarterback Terry Bradshaw on live TV.
“You never pick the Giants!” Mara told Bradshaw, who apologized, saying “I know. I know. I’m sorry.”
On learning of Mara’s death, Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, son of the late Bob Tisch, released the following statement:
“On behalf of my mother and sister and brother, I want to express our sympathy to John and the Mara family. Ann Mara has been the wonderful matriarch of our franchise. Like her husband Wellington, Ann was passionate about her faith, her family and her football team. Her energy and enthusiasm for her franchise were unmatched. We will miss her and are deeply saddened for the Mara family’s loss.”
4. Movie Stars Rooney & Kate Mara Are Among Her Grandchildren
Among her 42 grandchildren, Ann Mara counted both Kate and Patricia Rooney Mara, both well known actors.
Patricia Mara, known by her middle name, Rooney, is bets known for playing the lead role in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a role she will reprise in the upcoming sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Kate Mara will play Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, in the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic Four.
The two stars are NFL royalty twice over. Not only are they Giants founder Tim Mara’s grandchildren, but they are also granddaughters of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, who family legend says met the elder Mara over a $50,000 bet on a horse, long before the first Super Bowl.
5. The Giants Doubled in Value Since She Became Co-Owner
When management of the Giants passed to Ann Mara’s son, John Mara, the franchised had been criticized for declining revenues.
At the time, the Giants were generating $143 million in annual revenue, which according to Forbes’ ranking of team values put the Giants in 22nd place at a total value of $573 million.
According to CEO John Mara, it was a situation he planned to turn around:
“We’re falling further and further behind other teams in terms of revenues. At some point it will be difficult for us to afford big contracts and signing bonuses. We’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage.”
Seven years later, in 2010, Forbes ranked the Giants number 4, in total value, at $1.2 billion.
It is estimated the John Mara’s personal wealth exceeds $500 million.