That love did not extend, however, from uncle to nephew. Wellington and Tim Mara have not spoken to each other in eight years, or since Tim challenged his uncle's right to name a successor to Andy Robustelli as the team's general manager. The upshot of their dispute was the hiring of George Young as the G.M. in February 1979, and it is Young who deserves credit for the Giants' recent revival. He hired Perkins, who first steadied a sinking ship, and Parcells, who has it under full sail.
Until Tim's rebellion over the G.M. issue, Wellington's authority had gone virtually unchallenged. It was he who engineered the move from Yankee Stadium to New Jersey in 1976, a departure that has angered a succession of New York mayors from John Lindsay, who first protested the deal, to Ed Koch, who refuses to acknowledge the Giants as a New York team. Wellington has argued all along that the Jersey site is not that much farther from midtown Manhattan than Yankee Stadium, even if it is in another state. It is an argument lost on Koch, who has said he won't let the city pay for a victory parade if the Giants win the Super Bowl.
But the Maras have other problems. At one point several years ago Wellington wanted commissioner Pete Rozelle to adjudicate the differences between the 50-50 owners in the hope of restoring some of his lost authority. Rozelle refused, so the nephew and the uncle and their respective families remain uncomfortable bedfellows, Wellington as team president, Tim as vice-president and treasurer. So strong is their mutual aversion that each has erected a separate barrier between their adjoining luxury boxes. Each can now enjoy the games without fear of eye-to-eye contact. Young, meanwhile, runs the team with crack efficiency, although the Maras do retain veto rights over head coaches, first draft picks and major trades. They have had little reason to exercise those rights of late.
Wellington Mara is establishment NFL, a hidebound traditionalist. He is also one of the men who kept the league functioning in hard times, when it could as easily have gone under. "Men like Well didn't go into the game for fame," says Spadia, "and they obviously didn't go into it for the money. They—the Halases, the Rooneys, the Maras—went into it out of love for the game. They are NFL men. I think Well is a man who has always put the welfare of the league over that of his own franchise. His character can best be epitomized by the vote taken on allocating television revenues. Well agreed to allow Green Bay and the smaller markets to get the same amount of TV money he would get in the biggest market. That has been one of the things that has kept the franchises going. It's too bad this [family feud] has happened, but, then again, winning resolves everything."
Well, maybe not everything. But it does help, and the Giants right now are the biggest winners around. Right now, that is. This is their moment, but as poet Jeffers didn't quite get around to saying, what goes round comes round.