Wellington Mara, RIP

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Oct 26, 2005

Not being a pro football fan, I was only vaguely aware of Wellington Mara, the owner of the New York Giants, who died yesterday. But the obituaries (sample here) leave no doubt that this was an extraordinary Christian gentleman.

Father George Rutler tells me:

All I could add is that in the more than twenty years that I knew Wellington and his wife Ann as friends, I never heard him utter an untoward or unkind word or attract any attention to himself. Whether under the trying circumstances of my own mother’s funeral or at happy occasions like my recent birthday party, he was the same consistent personality, the father of a large and devoted family, not to mention being the chief architect of the modern National Football League. The archetypical Catholic gentleman distinguished himself in his pro-life work, very practically engaging football stars in his “Athletes for Life” which helped the moral formation of young boys in our morally desolate culture. I saw him shortly before he died and he never ceased to smile in spite of his discomfort. We used to joke that we got on so well because of my disdain for professional football, fleeing the slightest prospect of free tickets. He was a faithful penitent and communicant and I think he converted many in his raucous profession by his example.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Oct. 26, 2005 5:55 PM ET USA

    How can you not be a pro football fan?

  • Posted by: The OX - Oct. 26, 2005 4:47 PM ET USA

    Thanks for your tribute to Wellington Mara. Please note that he and Cardinal O'Connor were instrumental in starting Pro Life Athletes after the 1986 Super Bowl now known as Life Athletes (www.lifeathletes.org). Start up members included Chris Godfrey President, Mark Bavaro, Phil Simms, and Dave Bratton. Of personal interest Wellington Mara was at Fordham at the same time as Vince Lombari. Let us pray that most of his 11 children and 40 grandchildren will be at St. Patricks on Friday.

  • Posted by: Remigius - Oct. 26, 2005 4:36 PM ET USA

    Your servant Remigius would like to add his voice to the praises sounded by Father Rutler. Wellington Mara was a man of deep Catholic Faith who loved the Church and did so many things to promote Her mission. He was a strong supporter of the pro-lfe cause and was not afraid to encourage others to defend the right to life of the unborn. He was an exemplary product of a devout Catholic home and solid Jesuit educvation in high school and college. He loved the Lord. Requiescat in pace.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 26, 2005 4:35 PM ET USA

    I wonder what Mr. Morford of SF would say about the Mara family. Oh, I forgot, they're rich.