FMIA: How hard was it for you to do this?
Mara: “I had very mixed feelings about it because I happen to like the kid. I really do. I have two grandsons who sobbed uncontrollably when I called to tell them that we had traded him … one of whom is still not talking to me. They both said they’re going to be Browns fans this year. So that’s the effect he has. They’re 7 years old and they think he’s a god. I liked him a lot personally. He’s different. He’s not a bad kid.
“Dave [Gettleman, the Giants’ GM] and I had a long talk about it. When the Browns made their final offer, I wanted to know—You and Pat [Shurmur] both want to do this? You’re sure? You’re absolutely sure? I still said I had to think about it. Then I called him back a little bit later.”
FMIA: I thought you had to be thinking of Lawrence Taylor, and if your organization could put up with Taylor, surely you could put up with Beckham.
Mara: “There’s an old Bill Parcells quote: ‘Lawrence Taylor is the pilot of a burning plane. ‘ Somehow he managed to keep the plane from crashing. But we got … we had a lot of holes to fill. Getting the first-round pick, getting the third-round pick, getting our fourth back from the [Kevin Zeitler] trade. You can argue whether it’s comparable value. I felt better about that than about previous offers that had come down the pike. And he was going out of the conference! Out of the division, so it was a reluctant OK.
“Of course we want to keep our best players. Listen, I had many conversations with him. He had the stupid penalty in Philadelphia where he lifted his leg in the end zone [in a faux dog-urination scene] and I brought him into my office and I showed him the front page of the New York Post and said, ‘Is this what you want? Is this what you want your legacy to be?’ He looked at me and he said, ‘Well you know, I just don’t understand the celebration rules.’ I said, ‘Well you know you can’t do that!’ “
FMIA: Sounds like you’re pretty motivated as a team to build your lines back up in the draft.
Mara: “I don’t know what we’re going to do—whether we’ll take a quarterback or not. My response is show me what the grades are. But don’t force a pick. The worst thing we can do is force it. If we have to wait another year, I don’t want to have to do that, but if we have to, I’d rather do that than force it. This thing now about everyone asking, ‘What’s the plan? What’s the plan?’ We’re trying to build the roster! What do you want me to tell you? ‘Yeah, we’re gonna take a quarterback at six? The plan is to build the roster!’ It’s exasperating. But I learned a long time ago that you’re defenseless when you lose. There’s nothing you can say. We’ve got to build our team, and we’ve got to win.”