John K. Mara ’79, President and CEO of the New York Giants, received the Richard J. Bennett Memorial Award at the annual Corporate Counsel Dinner last night at Fordham Law School. Approximately 300 alumni, friends, and colleagues watched as Dean Matthew Diller presented to Mara the award, which recognizes ethically minded corporate leaders.
“Leadership in the NFL necessarily attracts a very bright spotlight,” said Dean Diller. “Fortunately, the Giants have an even brighter leader. John has adroitly guided one of the NFL’s oldest and most prominent franchises for a decade, employing his unmatched intellect, leadership, and legal expertise on issues ranging from labor, health and safety, rules and policy, and diversity.”
Mara, whose grandfather Tim founded the team in 1925, joined the Giants in 1991 as general counsel. He later added the title of executive vice president and chief operating officer. He assumed the team presidency upon the passing of his father, Wellington (a graduate of Fordham University), in 2005. Mara was instrumental in the planning and negotiations for the construction of the $1.6 billion Met Life Stadium and the decision among NFL owners to hold Super Bowl XLVIII at the venue, the first Super Bowl held in a cold-weather, outdoor stadium.
“We always try to achieve three goals with our franchise,” Mara said. “One, put the best possible team on the field for our fans. Two, treat everyone in our organization with dignity and respect. That lesson has been passed down from my grandfather to my father and, hopefully, to me. And, three, be a socially responsible and inclusive organization that is active in the community and sets a good example for our players and our fans.”
Prior to the award presentation, Professor Sean Griffith, Director of the Corporate Law Center, spoke about business law initiatives for students at the Law School, including the Committee on Diversity in Business Law.
“There are a lot of students who grew up in backgrounds who are far away, it seems, from the practice of business law,” Griffith said. “The mission of the Committee on Diversity in Business Law is to connect those groups to business law and to enable them to have some kind of connection to the practice that they might one day want to have and that they would not necessarily have had exposure to in the past.”