The Jesuit connections to football in New York abound. The Seven Blocks of Granite. The oldest high school football rivalry in the country.
And Wellington Mara.
Wellington Mara (1916-2005) was a 1933 graduate from Loyola School who would go on to attend Fordham University during the famous period of time that would produce a class of football legends. His own father, Timothy, founded the New York Giants, and Wellington would go on to have a lengthy 80-year career in the NFL – as a scout, secretary, coach, general manager and chief executive.
Throughout his changing roles, Wellington – who graduated top of his Loyola class – never forgot about Loyola and his early experiences with the Jesuits. He even would meet his wife, Ann, during a Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola Church, when they both ran to attend to a parishioner who had fainted.
On Nov. 22, Wellington Mara’s family, including sons, Frank and John (current CEO and president of the Giants), daughter, Susan, and his widow, Ann Mara, were at Loyola School with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company, to accept a Hometown Hall of Famer plaque on behalf of Wellington.
The plaque will hang outside the school’s gymnasium, recognizing Loyola as a formative first-step for Wellington on his road to success, a journey that extended beyond the football field with selfless dedication to many charitable causes, including Loyola School, the Jesuits and elsewhere.
Mr. Tony Oroszlany, Loyola School president, pointed out one important way to see Wellington Mara’s impact on the school on a day-to-day basis. He said that the school’s tradition of saying the St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity at each morning assembly had actually started after the late, beloved Fr. Prior, longtime dean of students at Loyola, saw Wellington reciting the prayer on television and declared, “If he can say it on TV, we can say it here.”
“This school meant so much to my father,” John Mara said. “He spoke very often and very fondly of his years here, and was very proud of the Jesuit education and values that he learned. The Jesuit principle, ‘Men and Women for Others,’ was something he believed very deeply in, and it was an ideal that really helped shape his life.”
For more on Wellington Mara, visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame website here.