Name: Tim Mara
Pro Career: 1925 – 1959
Team Affiliation(s): New York Giants
Induction Class: 1963 – Charter Member, posthumously
Brief Bio: Mara may not have founded the National Football League, but he could be labeled as a major source of its prolonged success. In a day when the NFL was barely surviving due to a lack of fan interest, league president Joe Carr was anxious to find a “showcase” franchise. Mara bought rights for a New York franchise from Carr for $500 in 1925. After a posting an 8-4 record in their first year, the Giants were still unable to crack the fans enthusiasm for college football. To help change this, Mara tried to sign college superstar Red Grange. The Bears beat him to Grange, but the fellow HOF member still helped shape Mara’s success. When Grange and the Bears first played at the Polo Grounds, fans showed up in droves, selling out the stadium’s capacity and netting Mara a reported $143,000, which was quite a large sum of money in the 1920s. However, times were not always good for Mara. He suffered huge financial losses in battles against rival leagues – the AFL in 1926 and the AAFC in the late 1940s. But each time, Mara emerged the victor with renewed success. As a child of rags rather than riches, Mara remained humble, once cutting a $115,153 check to the New York Unemployment Fund in 1930 (the start of the Great Depression) after hosting a charity game between his Giants and the Notre Dame All-Stars. Through all of ups and downs, Mara steered the Giants to success, winning three NFL and eight divisional championships, en route to becoming one of the league’s elite franchises.
Featured Card: This one is a bit different as the image you see above is actually an 8×10 headshot portrait available directly from the Pro Football HOF. Just like Joe Carr (previously featured here), there are not many cards of Tim Mara. I chose to feature this 8×10 to show that there are several items collectors can choose to go after, not just cards. The photo can be yours for $5.99. You can see a whole selection of official 8×10 headshots here. You can fall back on the Swell Greats or other HOF focused sets if you wish to pick up some Mara cardboard. Most eBay prices of Mara cards are in the $1-2 range.
NOTE: You can find all of my Hall Of Fame Spotlight Features by clicking the HOF Spotlight banner above.