By Tony Aiello
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — His team puts eleven men on the field. But for the last few weeks NY Giants CEO John Mara has been one of 12 people in a box – a jury box.
Mara was Juror #1 in a federal drug conspiracy trial. I was Juror #8.
For most people there’s really no “good time” to devote a month of their lives to jury service, and all of us on the panel struggled with the call to serve. I fit in work days at CBS2 as the court schedule allowed, and felt grateful that my bosses supported my obligation to fulfill this civic duty.
But as a football fan it was hard for me not to feel particularly sorry for Mara, one of the key members on the owners’ team trying to resolve the labor dispute and lock-out threatening the NFL season. For days at a time his ability to help negotiate that mess was limited, while he was sidelined in the jury box.
And of course, April brings the NFL Draft. Instead of huddling with his GM and draft experts, Mara was hearing testimony and listening to hours and hours of surveillance recordings.
But as most Giants fans will tell you, Mara is widely considered a “class act.” He tackled his jury obligation with a positive attitude that impressed the rest of us.
Jury duty is a serious business, but anyone who’s served knows there are lighter moments that lift the tension.
One day, Mara arrived first and found the jury assembly room was still locked.
As I and others arrived, Mara said with an ironic chuckle “now I know how the players feel being locked out.”
Another day, we were talking about favorite cities and I brought up New Orleans, mentioning how much I admire Drew Brees for all he’s done to help lift the city out of its post-Katrina trauma.
I stopped mid-sentence as it hit me – Brees is one of the key plaintiffs in the players’ anti-trust suit that is giving Mara and other owners such a headache.
Can you say “awkward”?
Mara didn’t miss a beat.
“Well, Drew and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a couple of things right now, but I agree – he’s one of the outstanding people in the league.”
Mara made it clear he regrets the legal strife that threatens the season, and for the sake of the league and its fans, he’s anxious to resolve the dispute as soon as possible.
So to help move things along, I’m going to make a suggestion to the players on how to score points with Mara.
Three words: chocolate chip cookies.
Every day during our afternoon break, the court provided coffee and a tray of chocolate chip cookies to the jury.
And every day, Mara pounced on those cookies like Osi Umenyiora jumping on a loose ball.
In any event, I hope the NFL negotiations end as successfully as our jury deliberations.
We had serious matters to settle, and serious differences of opinion.
But everyone was willing to listen respectfully, work together, and arrive at a just decision.
And I know I speak for my fellow jurors when I say it was great to have John Mara on the team.
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