Giants' Mara admits he should have consulted Jets on issue

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The co-owner of the New York Giants said he goofed when he failed to tell the owner of the New York Jets about a decision to allow the Miami Dolphins to use the Giants' indoor facility before a game against the Jets.

In hindsight, Giants co-owner John Mara said he should have spoken to Jets owner Woody Johnson before giving the Dolphins permission to use their indoor practice facility Friday and Saturday.

The Dolphins and Jets play Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium, a $1.6 billion facility that is co-owned by the Giants and Jets.

"I did not consider it a big deal," Mara said late Wednesday afternoon. "I have been in business a long time, and I would not consider it a big deal if another team was using the Jets' facility. In retrospect, I wish I would have called Woody and asked him about it first, because my relationship with him and the Jets is far more important to me and this organization than my relationship with the Dolphins."

In a statement Wednesday night, Johnson said Mara addressed the issue and that he had nothing to add.

"Our partnership is as strong as ever," Johnson said.

Jets coach Rex Ryan downplayed the Dolphins' use of the facility.

"It's their facility," Ryan said. "They can do anything they want with it."

The whole brouhaha can be traced to Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, in a way.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross saw Mara at the premiere of the Broadway play "Lombardi" in late October and told him that he was thinking of taking his NFL team to the play before their game against the Jets. That's when he initially talked about using the Giants' facility.

Ross formally asked the Giants about a month ago for use of their indoor facility for a Saturday walkthrough. A week later, the Dolphins asked to use the field both late Friday for a practice and Saturday for a walkthrough.

The problem for many New Yorkers is that the Giants and Jets are partners and it seems odd that the Giants would not only help a Jets opponent, but one from the AFC East.

Mara said Johnson telephoned him Wednesday, and they spoke about four topics: their joint Super Bowl bid in 2014, the NFL labor situation, a news conference Johnson attended Tuesday and finally the Dolphins' issue. Mara said Johnson seemed fine after their talk, and he downplayed any suggestion that he and Johnson don't get along.

"My relationship with Woody and our relationship with the Jets have never been better," Mara said. "We have a million decisions that we are going to have to make going forward. This partnership is too important to me to jeopardize by doing something like this."

The Dolphins will not have use of either the Giants' grass field or the locker room. The Giants aren't charging them a fee.

Mara was surprised by the controversy that a move he believed to be a "common courtesy" to another team generated.

"We (the Giants and Jets) have a long partnership that is going to last for many years, and the last thing in the world I want to do is get them upset about an issue like this," Mara said. "Again, I did not consider it big deal. Apparently, it is a slow enough news day that it has become a big deal."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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