EAST RUTHEFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ann Mara, the matriarch of the New York Giants’ founding family, died Sunday morning, the team announced.
Mara, 85, slipped in front of her home in Rye, New York, during an ice storm last month, said Giants president and CEO John Mara, Ann’s son.
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“She had been in the hospital since the following day, initially due to a head injury she suffered in her fall,” John Mara said in a news release. “After a few days, we were hopeful for her recovery, although we knew it would be a long road back. Unfortunately, there were complications.”
Often called the “The First Lady of Football,” Ann Mara was the wife of longtime Giants owner Wellington Mara, who died at age 89 in 2005. Following his death, she and her children owned 50 percent of the team. The Giants were founded in 1925 by Tim Mara, Wellington’s father.
“I am sad to say that our mother has passed away,” John Mara said. “She has been the leader of our family in every way, and we will miss her dearly.
“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.”
Ann Mara was known as a passionate defender of the Giants and attended nearly every game, home and away, for 60 years.
She became an Internet sensation and endeared herself to Giants fans in 2011, when after the team upset the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 NFC championship game, she approached Fox’s Terry Bradshaw in the locker room, wagged her finger at him and said, “You never pick the Giants!”
Even after this past season, when the Giants finished 6-10 to complete their second consecutive losing season, John Mara said in a news conference that his mother “is not very happy with me right now, believe me,” Mara said. “She suffers through this probably even more so than I do. I am on notice as well.”
Ann Mara was a prominent philanthropist who supported educational organizations. Mara also helped children with cancer through the Ronald McDonald House of New York. In November, she dedicated the opening of a new building for the San Miguel Academy for children at risk, which was built through the NFL Snowflake Foundation.
Three days before MetLife Stadium — the home of the Giants and Jets — was the site of the Super Bowl last year, Ann Mara received the Paul J. Tagliabue Award of Excellence. It is presented to a league or team executive who demonstrates the integrity and leadership that he exhibited in career development opportunities for minority candidates and advocacy for diversity on the league and club level when he was NFL commissioner.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Ann Mara “a tower of strength, dignity and inspiration for her family and all of us in the NFL.”
“Her family and the Giants organization have always reflected Mrs. Mara’s competitive spirit, integrity, and wonderful sense of humor. Our thoughts and prayers are with John Mara and the entire Mara family,” Goodell said in a statement.
Current and former Giants took to Twitter to express their condolences.
Born Ann Mumm in Manhattan on June 18, 1929, Mara is survived by 11 children, 43 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. One of her grandchildren, Chris’ daughter Rooney Mara, was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in 2012. Another granddaughter, Kate, stars in the Netflix series “House of Cards.”
Funeral plans are pending.
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