Posted: Friday October 6, 2006 3:20PM; Updated: Friday October 6, 2006 6:05PM
SI: Then came last year's Carolina playoff game and the opener this year against the Colts.
Mara: My dad said to me recently, "Well, it looks like you're not our good-luck charm anymore." He was laughing, but I was like, Oh, no. I'm hoping that I'll make a comeback.
SI: How do you watch a game?
Mara: If we're obviously going to win, then I'm OK and I'll interact with friends or family. But I usually bite my nails off and drink 10 bottles of water. There's nothing worse than people who want to make you feel better when you are losing. I just want to smack them.
SI: Your father, Chris, is the Giants VP of player evaluation. Can you give us insight on how to evaluate an NFL player?
Mara: Good God, no. But my dad knows so much about the league. Whenever any news happens, I call my dad right away.
SI: You were 17 when the Giants played the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Tell me about that day.
Mara: I remember it being one of the most exciting times for my family. It was really thrilling. Before the actual game it was parties every night, everyone celebrating. Then the game happened. There was a party after the game, which we all found sort of silly. Why are we celebrating that we lost? But you have to celebrate that you got that far. It's sort of a thank-you to the players for giving their all. I remember all of us being glum. It's crazy going high to low in such a short amount of time. I didn't want to go to school the next day. It was rough.
SI: Who is the first Giants player you had a special feeling for?
Mara:Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. Simms was the quarterback, and you usually go with the quarterback. He was so great and my family loved him so much. He was such a good guy. I remember a few times people mistook my dad for Phil. I think people thought they looked alike for a second, and when I was younger I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, although sometimes they were screaming at him because we lost and saying, "Phil, you suck!" I was like, Oh, my God, Dad, they think you are Phil Simms. That was sort of my first player I really started to notice. Then L.T. became my all-time favorite.
SI: What's your favorite Lawrence Taylor story?
Mara: I went to the Super Bowl in San Diego with my family and I was walking to the hotel with my dad and he screamed "L." He turned around and it was L.T. So I got really nervous and told my dad really quickly to remind him who I am so I could shake his hand. So L.T. gives my dad a hug and I hear my dad go, "Ooooh." I said hello and they broke apart. It was a pretty quick encounter and after he walked away, my dad said, "I think he broke my ribs." I was like, "Oh, my God, that is amazing. I'm sorry, I feel bad for you, but it's so cool that L.T. just hugged you and broke your ribs. You can tell people Lawrence Taylor broke your ribs."
SI: You share a lot of scenes in We Are Marshall with Ian McShane. Did he tell you about his love of Manchester United?
Mara: I didn't know that. I wish I knew. He's such a great guy. All I knew about him was that he was this scary character in Deadwood. I was like, How is this guy going to play a sweet and upset guy? I was kind of scared, but he was the sweetest guy. Soft voice. Loving. Amazing actor.
SI: Do other actors know about your NFL connection?
Mara: It always comes up when people are talking about football. I'll join in the conversation and people will say, "Wow, you are a football fan" -- shocked that a young girl is a football fan! They'll say, "Who do you like?" I'll say the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. They'll say why those two teams and I'll say I'm from New York and my mom is from Pittsburgh. It eventually comes up.
We were going to the Marshall alumni game and I was in the elevator with [actor] David Strathairn. I was the only actress going to the game and I was so excited because I wanted to see a football game. He was surprised that I was coming to the game. I told him I loved football. He was like, "Really, did your brothers play?" I told him they played for a minute and I really loved it. He found that fascinating. He was an honorary coach for one of the teams. Matthew McConaughey was an honorary coach for another team. I was on the side with David and halfway through the game he came running over to me and he was bright red. He said, "I'm so embarrassed. I just realized who you are." He said, "I can't believe I was so shocked you were a football fan. I should have known that." Then he said, "I have to call a play right now and I don't know what to call." So I said, "Let me call my dad." So I got my dad on the phone and I gave the phone to David and my dad gave him a play and they scored a touchdown.
SI: What Giants do you stay tight with?
Mara: We go to Giants events occasionally. Tiki Barber is just really personable. I don't know if it's he knows certain members of my family but he always addresses you by your name. He's such a smart guy, a family guy and a great football player. He has so much respect for our family. And I really like Jeremy Shockey regardless of his outbursts with the media. He's always been nice to us. I think you should reserve judgment on him. I know I may have just put my foot in my mouth because he'll probably come out in a week or so and say something.
SI: Why was your grandfather so well-liked in football circles?
Mara: I went to the Philly game this year. We were losing and it was rough. The Eagles fans were turning to our box and screaming at us, telling us we suck. But there was this fan sitting two rows in front of us and he held up a napkin when we were losing. He had written THE GIANTS ARE CLASSY on it. He could have been drunk and trying to hit on some girls, but to me I saw that and I thought, The Giants organization is classy and it's a class act because my grandfather and his father were that way and that's how they lived their lives. Treat others how you want to be treated. That was his motto. I know my dad and my uncle John try to follow in their dad's footsteps. He was such a quiet, quiet man, but whenever he spoke it always meant something. You wanted to listen. He had good morals and he passed it on to my family.
SI: How much was football the subject of family dinners?
Mara: It's part of our lives. Now I call my dad a lot -- especially living in L.A. -- to talk to him about football. I have become more of a fan and my brothers always talk about football during family dinners.
SI: Where do you watch the Giants when you are in Los Angeles?
Mara: My great friend Kenny is a crazy Giants fan. We both moved to L.A. from New York at the same time. We always watch the games together. If we win, we'll go out and celebrate. If we lose, we don't talk to each other for days.
SI: You were in the air on 9/11, flying from New York's Kennedy Airport to Los Angeles. Your plane was grounded in Kansas City. What was that day like for you?
Mara: Surreal. We were in the air and they said there was air traffic. I didn't think twice about it. I figured we would get back in the air. I was by myself, and when we landed someone had gotten someone on their cell phone and announced what had happened. The whole plane started talking about it. No one thought it was possible. I honestly didn't believe it. I never thought about who I knew in the World Trade Center. How do you comprehend something like that happening? As we were walking off the plane I finally got my mom on the phone and she reminded me that my dad had his three best friends in there. The feeling that came over me at the moment, I couldn't even stand up. I was by myself, a young girl by herself, but I remember people came up to me and helped me get to the hotel. All my dad was doing the entire time was to try to get me home. He called the Kansas City Chiefs to talk to them about helping me get home. Finally we decided I would take a train to Pittsburgh and my grandparents -- the Rooney side --and my dad and mom all picked me up there.
SI: You can choose one: a Super Bowl win or an Academy Award.
Mara: Super Bowl. I can't imagine wining an Academy Award, but I could imagine a Super Bowl. And many, for that matter. Let's be honest: I just want a Super Bowl ring.