PHOENIX | New York Giants owner John Mara has achieved full villain status among Redskins fans because they perceive him to have spearheaded the $36 million salary cap penalty the NFL imposed upon the Redskins last March.
Mara is OK with being cast as Washington’s public enemy No. 1, but he insists he was not at the forefront of the effort to strip the Redskins of $18 million in cap space last season and another $18 million in 2013.
“That was an issue that was negotiated between the league office and the players’ association,” Mara said Tuesday evening after the league’s annual meetings adjourned for the day. “I was not present in any of those sessions, nor did I have anything to do with it. But if they want to continue to make me the villain, so be it.”
Mara is the chairman of the NFL management council, the league’s most powerful committee. It was at these meetings last March when he told reporters the Redskins violated “the spirit of the salary cap” during the uncapped 2010 season. “Quite frankly, I think they’re lucky they didn’t lose draft picks,” he said.
Mara believes those words prompted his vilification.
“I think that’s where it comes from, but it’s over and done with,” he said. “It didn’t exactly hurt them. They put together a hell of a team last year.”
The Redskins share their fans’ animosity toward Mara. General manager Bruce Allen last week noted the New York Giants were reigning Super Bowl champions when the penalty was proposed by the NFL and agreed to by the NFLPA. Coach Mike Shanahan last week acknowledged some victories satisfied him more than others during the team’s seven-game winning streak last season that resulted in the NFC East championship.
Mara is aware the Redskins used his comments as bulletin board material before their nationally televised Monday night game on Dec. 3. The Redskins’ 17-16 victory that night helped them catch the Giants in the standings and go on to win the NFC East division championship. Washington finished 10-6, and the Giants finished 9-7.
“Listen, if I had known I was that good a motivational speaker, maybe I’ll start talking to my own players,” Mara said with a laugh.