john mara
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

John Mara contradicted himself numerous times on Wednesday.

Hey look — John Mara spoke publicly to the media.

You can’t say that every day…or week…or month.

The Giants co-owner is rarely one to publicly provide his thoughts on the issue-filled pro football organization he owns. He hardly opens up to the media about the problems within the roster, coaching staff, or front office, nor has he addressed the medium soda debacle.

But on Wednesday, following the Monday “retirement” of general manager Dave Gettleman and Tuesday firing of head coach Joe Judge, Mara sat in front of reporters, albeit via Zoom.

His reputation was trending upwards heading into the presser. He had just fired the head coach many fans wanted out and one of the worst general managers in franchise history had “retired” (no, I won’t stop putting that in quotes).

But that positive trend definitely took a turn Wednesday afternoon, when Mara contradicted himself on various occasions.

Limiting accountability?

Mara, almost right away, said that he and co-owner Steve Tisch must “make the right choices going forward to earn back [the fans’] trust. That is not going to be an overnight process. That’s going to take some time, but it starts with getting the general manager pick done correctly and then with hiring the right head coach. That’s going to be a process that we’re going to have to earn their trust again. As I said, that’s not going to happen overnight.”

Mara wishes to earn back the trust of the fans that pay their hard-earned money to watch a lousy football team. Yet, when addressing the media for one of the few times he does every year, the Giants had various restrictions in place.

The press conference was not broadcast live on the MSG Network or WFAN Sports Radio (the flagship station for Giants football). The reporters who were present on the Zoom call were also only permitted one question each.

If you want to earn back the trust of these fans, especially in this market, you’re going to need to face the music to the fullest extent, John.

You have been at the forefront of arguably the worst era in this franchise’s history and people want answers. So when the time comes to provide said answers, you cannot limit what the reporters can attempt to find out or restrict the viewing ability of the event.

Is the GM job actually “desirable”

“All I can tell you is based on the number of inquiries that I have had from prospective candidates; we’re not going to be able to interview even 20 percent of all them. [The general manager role] is a very desirable job,” Mara told the media. “We happen to have a lot of draft capital coming up. I think this is an organization that people want to work for, so I’ve been heartened by the fact that so many people have expressed an interest and including people who are very talented and who have a legitimate shot at getting the job. We haven’t been turned down by anybody yet.”

Then, later on in the presser, Mara revealed his true thoughts on the organization…

“Honestly, I would have to say [this is the most embarrassed I’ve been regarding the franchise]…I kept thinking during the season that we had hit rock bottom and then each week it got a little worse,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not proud of saying this, but if I’m going to be 100 percent honest, I would have to say the answer is yes.”

How in the world can you possibly say that the general manager position is desirable when you’re willing to reveal this is the most embarrassed you’ve ever been about your franchise?

Imagine trying to sell what the organization is about to a GM candidate after publicly stating that you and the franchise “hit rock bottom and then each week it got a little worse?”

Not to mention, there are also other factors at hand that shouldn’t make the job one of pure desire.

The cap situation is a disaster (the Giants own less than $3 million in space), there are various holes throughout the roster, and New York is overpaying guys like Kenny Golladay ($18 million per year) and Adoree’ Jackson ($13 million per year).

There’s also a significant dilemma at the quarterback position. The new general manager will need to decide whether to keep Daniel Jones for year four, roll the dice with one of the rookies in this weak 2022 quarterback class, sign a veteran to a one-year contract to be a bridge to 2023, or potentially give up multiple first-round picks for an aging Russell Wilson (should he actually depart Seattle).

None of these options seem intriguing.

Allowing Gettleman to “retire”

Okay, this part of the press conference wasn’t contradictory, but I still don’t love what Mara said, so I’ll complain about it.

“[Firing Gettleman instead of allowing him to retire] would not necessarily have given me a head start [on the search for a new general manager]. The only people I would have been allowed to speak to would be people who are on the street right now,” Mara told reporters. “Quite frankly, our top candidates are people who are all employed right now, so it really would not have given us any advantage. I didn’t see any need to do that earlier than when he announced his retirement.”

That may be true, but still, firing Gettleman prior to year’s end would’ve sent a message to the entire organization that this is a results league, and if the results aren’t good (which they weren’t under DG’s watch), anyone could be gone at any moment.

Allowing an incompetent general manager to “retire” instead of holding him accountable is a gutless and irresponsible move by an owner.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.

Ryan Honey is a senior NFL analyst, betting writer, and podcaster for Elite Sports NY. He hosts the Wide Right Podcast, which serves as both a New York Giants podcast and sports betting show.