John Mara on Wednesday publicly defended the Giants’ decision to re-sign kicker Josh Brown this offseason even though the team was aware he had been charged with an incident of domestic violence in May 2015 and that Brown’s then-wife had told police of 20 previous allegations of abuse.
“It’s very easy to say a guy has been accused, get rid of him, terminate him,” the Giants co-owner said in his first remarks since Brown’s situation became public last week with a one-game suspension by the NFL for violating the personal conduct policy. “But when you’re sitting at the top of an organization and responsible for a lot of people, you’d better make more informed decisions than that.”
Mara believes the Giants did just that.
“When we made the decision to re-sign Josh back in [the spring] we were certainly aware of the arrest,” he said. “We were also aware of the allegations associated with that arrest and the fact that the charges were dropped within a couple of days after the arrest. Based on the facts and circumstances that we were aware of at that time, we were comfortable with our decision to re-sign him. Nothing has happened in the meantime to make us question that decision.”
Mara said the Giants performed their own investigation into the allegations made by Molly Brown, which are included in documents obtained by Newsday from the King County (Washington) sheriff’s office.
“I’m not going to make any comments on the veracity of the allegations other than to say we were comfortable making an informed decision,” Mara said.
The NFL has been criticized for being too lenient on domestic violence, and the one-game suspension of Brown certainly appears to feed into those who make that claim.
“One thing that you learn when you are dealing with these issues is that there is a big difference between allegations and convictions or indictments,” Mara said. “It’s very difficult sometimes to sort through all of that and make informed decisions. We attempted to make an informed decision here. We’ll live with the results of that decision and we’ll move forward.”
Mara even compared the Brown situation to the most infamous case of domestic abuse in the NFL in recent years.
“A lot of times there is a tendency to make these cases black and white,” he said. “They are very rarely black and white. You very rarely have a Ray Rice video. There are allegations made, you try to sort through the facts, you try to make an informed decision. That’s what we did.”
Mara said it would be a “football decision” on whether Brown plays for the Giants this year. He will be suspended for the opener and newly signed kicker Randy Bullock will compete for the Week 1 job. Mara said it will be up to the coaches who stays on the roster after that. “It’s going to be determined on the field.”
Mara said Brown has been “going through counseling for a few years” and that the Giants are confident he has been diligent in that regard.
“Josh knows what’s expected of him, it’s been made pretty clear,” Mara said. “He’s been a good citizen since he’s been here. He’s had conversations with a number of us in management, including myself, and I’m confident that he’ll continue to conduct himself in a manner that we expect of Josh.”
Mara said he remained quiet for almost a week because “it’s such a complex and emotional issue,” but decided to speak Wednesday because he “just felt like the time was right.” He admitted he “probably should have done it a couple of days ago.”
He noted that all team employees, players or otherwise, go through training programs on issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and DUI. He said the Giants have worked closely with an organization called “My Sister’s Place” for many years. He also said he has gotten backlash on his decision not only from fans but from members of his family.
“I’m painfully aware that I have four daughters and seven sisters and I know I have to face each one of them,” he said.
Ultimately, though, he and the Giants decided to stick with Brown.
“This is an organization that always tries to do the right thing,” Mara said. “I don’t know that we always get it done, but we try. Yes, the easiest thing in the world for us to have done would have been to say ‘Let’s find another kicker.’ But I’m trying to be fair to him as well. I think he’s trying to do the right thing and he deserves an opportunity to show he can do that.”