President & CEO John Mara
January 15, 2016
Q: When you went into this process, did you identify Ben as a favorite?
A: I donít want to say a favorite but obviously I watched him for two years, had a certain familiarity with him, so I guess you could say he was the favorite going in. We talked to six guys and I meant what I said before, I was really taken aback at how impressive they all were. This notion that itís an uninspiring group, it may have been uninspiring to people on the outside, but not when you sat down and talked to these guys and looked at their credentials, heard about their ideas. It really was an excellent group as far as I was concerned.
Q: What set Ben apart?
A: I think what really gave me the edge was the familiarity. Iíve been able to watch him for two years, I loved what he said, he had a really good grasp of what we had on our team, what we needed to improve on, and a great vision going forward. Itís just something about having watching him on the field with the quarterbacks and with the offense. The first thing that came to mind two years ago was that this guy is a teacher and heís got an edge to him. Heís not afraid to lose his temper out there and bark at guys and I happen to like that. Plenty of times I wanted to bark at the last couple of years so there were all those things. The concern as it always is was that heís never done it before. You can say whatever you want but you just donít know until heís out there as the head coach but I feel good about him. I think heís got everything it takes to be a successful head coach.
Q: Was that familiarity or relationship with Eli [Manning] the thing that put him over the top?
A: That was part of it but I think thatís been overblown to tell you the truth. I did talk to Eli right after the last press conference we did, and I talked to him about some of the candidates, and he obviously liked Ben but he liked some of the other guys to. I was aware of that but that was not the factor that a lot of you make it out to be.
Q: If you felt a conviction about someone who wasnít Ben and even though Eli might not have been comfortable, you would have gone in that way?
A: Absolutely. Players adapt, particularly somebody as smart as he [Eli] is, he would have adapted to that.
Q: We spent a lot of time at your press conference asking about the personnel and you admitted that there were some issues there. After talking to Ben and hearing what he thinks of the guys here, are you any more encouraged by whatís here and obviously there future?
A: One of the things I was encouraged about, I mean heís on the same page in terms of what we need, I donít think his view is as maybe as dim as mine has been but he knows where we need to improve and he knows what we need to do. I think heíll work very well with our personnel department, he already has. Heís been in our draft room, even as a coordinator was not the least bit afraid to voice his opinion and be firm about it, but he did it in a respectful matter and I think heís going to be very helpful to that process. He minimized the input that heís going to have. Our head coaches here going back to 1979 have always had significant input into the personnel decisions. No players were ever forced upon them and thatís going to continue to be the case.
Q: Was there any sense that if you didnít make Ben the head coach this time then you were going to lose him to another team?
A: I think there was a good possibility that could have happened but if I didnít believe he was the right guy, if we didnít believe he was the right guy that would have been the difference.
Q: What stood out mostly about Ben that you liked about him?
A: I think the opportunity to observe him on the field the last couple of years, particularly at practice and the way he handles the team, the way he handled the offense, the way he just looked like a teacher, a fundamentalist. The presence that he has, the toughness that he has, I think all those things helped us make this decision.
Q: People when people renovate a house they gut it or they just make changes, is there any concern? You havenít gutted this, heís [McAdoo] here, the defensive coordinator [Steve Spagnuolo] could be here, some guys on your staff could be here. Itís not a full renovation job.
A: It depends on how you characterize it. There are going to be some changes on the staff thereís no question about that. Weíre looking at what weíve done personnel wise, where we have made the mistakes in the draft, and why we have missed on guys. Are our standards too rigid or are they not rigid enough, letís look at that and figure out what we need to improve, and do we need some additional people down there or do we need to make some changes. That continues to be the discussion weíll have going forward. I know what our roster looks like and I know it has to get a heck of a lot better if weíre going to put the fifth trophy in the case.
Q: Youíve talked about the pressures in order to make 10 year, 15 years decisions, do you see these two last weeks as sort of shaping what your legacy might be as an owner?
A: Yeah, I hope so. I accept my share of the blame for what has gone on. I got a lot of love letters recently from our fans; one of them wrote me and said that, ďThe problem with the organization is sitting right in your chairĒ. Another one put it a little more succinctly and he said, ďThe fish stinks from the head downĒ. I take that personally and I accept my share, this is all under my watch, and I know we need to get better as an organization. What gives me confidence is that I know weíve done it before and I believe we have the right people here to do it again. I believe we can do it under this head coach.
Q: A couple hours before word got out that you were about to hire Ben, word was that the Eagles were about to hire him, did that change your timetable at all?
A: Iíll tell you what it did change, once the Hue Jackson interview was cancelled I said to Jerry [Reese] letís bring Ben back Thursday morning for a second interview and move this process along. I guess he called Ben and we found out well he was going to be with the Eagles on Thursday morning, so I said letís bring him back in this afternoon then. That was Wednesday and we did that and had John and Steve Tisch present, we went over some things that we needed to talk to him about, and I think we all got a little more comfortable with him after that. It did accelerate the process no question about it.
Q: Does his age give you any pause? I mean the fact that heís so young.
A: Itís not so much the age. The only thing is heís been a coordinator for two years. Ideally he would have been a coordinator for longer than that but my instincts feel as if heís the right guy. Youíre never going to be in a perfect situation and even if heís been a coordinator for 20 years itís a different job becoming the head coach. I learned that in 1974 when we hired Bill Arnsparger whoís the defensive genius of all time and it didnít work out for us back then. Guys can be great coordinators, but it doesnít necessarily mean theyíre going to be great head coaches, but I think he has something in him thatís going to allow him to be a terrific NFL head coach.
Q: What advice did you give him about being a head coach, about making that transition?
A: I said you need to surround yourself with experienced people. I donít think that you fully understand everything that you have to do as a head coach. Itís a lot more than just drawing up the offensive game plan, you have to be worried about the defensive side, youíre going to have to deal with the media, youíre going to have to deal with personnel issues that arise on a day-by-day basis, players off the field issues, a lot goes into that. Heís smart enough to understand and I think he will surround himself with the right people and heís got a great resource in Steve Spagnuolo here whoís been a head coach. Iím sure Steve will help him a little bit.
Q: Do you know yet of one of those resources will be Tom [Coughlin]?
A: I hope so. We havenít discussed that recently because he was interviewing for other jobs but I know that it seems to gone in a different direction hopefully weíll have that discussion again.
Q: I know you were prepared for him to be working somewhere else, but the thought of him working for the Eagles bother you?
A: Iím not going to lie it would have been like watching Bill Parcells walk out with the star on his shoulder. It was tough to see at the time and that would have bothered me. I want him to be happy but I certainly didnít want to see him happy in green.
Q: Had you heard the ďDonít change the clocksĒ antidote before?
A: I had heard it. It was one of the first things that Ben said. Ben said that he wasnít going to change them anyway, which I think is good. I think itís a good philosophy, itís a good thing to have, and itís a good concept.
Q: You know something about following in some footsteps; I know yours were family, but just that part of the challenge for Ben sort of establishing his own identity, do you think thatís a legitimate concern?
A: Itís a concern but heís smart enough and tough enough to deal with that I think and Iím not really worried about that.
Q: What made you believe that this was the guy to go after the 5th Lombardi trophy?
A: Again just having observed him for the last two years, observed how he handled the team on the field, how he acted like a teacher, the presence that he had, the kind of edge that he had on the practice field if things werenít going particularly well, and the players responded to him and I could see that for myself. I know our quarterback is a big fan of his and so there were a lot of factors that went into it. Heís a smart guys, a tough guy, heís had some great training under Mike McCarthy and then under Tom Coughlin. I think all those factors led us to believe that he was the right guy for the job.
Q: Were you worried about the lack of coaching experience?
A: Sure, you always worry about that. Until a guy has done it you just never know but again we think he has what he takes.
Q: John your father saw [Vince] Lombardi and [Tom] Landry leave for whatever circumstances, you saw John Fox leave, I know you were high on Fox.
A: And Sean Payton.
Q: Sean Payton, right. If you didnít hire McAdoo now did you think you might have regretted it?
A: Yeah, because he obviously was our first choice, so yeah. If he had left and gone somewhere else we probably would have been very upset about that. Again the fact that he was a candidate for the Philadelphia job just accelerated the timing of the second interview. After the initial round of talking to six guys he was still my favorite at that point, and Jerry, so all the Philadelphia interview did was accelerate the timing of the second interview.
Q: John when you look at a guy like Mike Tomlin, no one really knew him before he got that job and became an outstanding pro coach. Do you think you found a diamond in the rough here?
A: Well weíll find out. We wonít know that until he starts coaching but believe me I thought about the Mike Tomlin scenario quite a bit. He came out of nowhere and now heís one of the best coaches out there. Letís face it more of them fail than not but I think this guy has everything that you need to be a successful head coach. Now we have to help him and get him better personnel.
Q: Is he the guy to help restore the integrity and the stuff that you were talking about?
A: Thatís why we hired him. We want him to bring back the pride to this team. Itís been a rough three and a half years.
Q: For you to say that this franchise has lost some of its credibility, how much did that eat at you?
A: Of course it tears me up. Itís been three and a half awful years and the last Super Bowl is a distant memory at this point. We long ago lost the benefit of the doubt with our fans and stuff. Thatís what happens when you have three losing seasons. Really itís been three and a half, it goes back to the second half of the 2012 season, and then the following three years have been miserable. Itís time to start on a new course.
Q: Did you discuss specifically the growth and maturity of Odell [Beckham Jr.] and was that an important question for you to hear from him?
A: Sure, absolutely.
Q: What did he have to say?
A: Pretty much what he said was what he said up here on the podium. He was upset at the way that it transpired, he put a lot of the blame on himself, and he realizes that he should have stepped in and done something. When youíre an offensive coordinator and you got that play sheet in front you, youíre not always focused specifically on whatís going on in situations like that. Heíll be the head coach now, depending on who he ends up with as his offensive coordinator, itís possible somebody else will be calling the plays. I think he understands that you canít let a situation like that linger.
Q: Was that important for you to hear?
A: Sure it was. To me it was unacceptable and stuff like that happens sometimes, look at what happened at the end of the Cincinnati game. I just donít want our players to conduct themselves like that.
Q: You promoted Ben, sounds like Steve is staying, what makes you confident that enough change is going to occur?
A: First thing we have to do is get them better players. That comes through the Draft and we got some room to do some things in free agency too. One of the things that I liked about Ben was that he realizes that free agency is not the, be all end all. Itís still the Draft and you can fill in some holes in free agency but itís still about drafting the right way. He has everything I think it takes Ė intelligence, toughness, work ethic, and I believe he does feel like he has something to prove. Everybody is going to say, ďOh youíre too young, you donít have enough experienceĒ, and I think thatís going to motivate him.
Q: John you have said Tom hired Ben. When did you first say, ďWe may be on to something here?Ē
A: Watching him in practice from his first day here through training camp and through the season there was just something about him that I liked. The way he taught, the way he occasionally had a little bark to him when things were not going well and it just seemed like the players responded to him well and that is one of the reasons I go to practice is to watch for stuff like that and he definitely made an impression on me.
Q: Players seem very happy with this move. Does that matter to you?
A: That doesnít mean anything. It really doesnít mean anything. I learned that a long time ago. They are always happy at the beginning and their job is to make me happy at the end of the year.
Q: Can you say how long of a deal you gave him?
A: No, we donít talk about that.
Q: You announced that you had offered Tom [Coughlin] a position. Now that he has withdrawn his name from the Philadelphia situation have you heard from him?
A: No, I understand --- someone told me that he was here working out this morning so I did not get a chance to see him but we would like to have that discussion with him assuming that he is not going to be coaching this year and I guess he wonít be but I donít know if that is final yet.
Q: John with all of the continuity when we eventually learn about the staff, are you comfortable with the outside perception that this was all Tom Coughlinís fault?
A: The outside perception is what it is and I canít do much about that. This is not about blaming Tom. This was an organizational failure on our part starting with me and working its way down. We all have to take some blame for that and now it is up to us to turn it around.
Q: You talked about Benís edge and his bark. Does he have to change that at all as a head coach?
A: No, I think you need to have that and I donít think his personality is going to change at all. I think he has the right stuff.