Allowing Dave Gettleman to stick around a few extra weeks so that he could save face with “retirement” was not the Giants’ mistake.
Allowing the failed general manager to remain in charge two years too long was the mistake.
Giants co-owner John Mara explained Wednesday why Gettleman was permitted to retire at season’s end even though it became inevitable by midseason that he would not be retained in 2022. NFL rules prohibit executives employed by one team from interviewing during the regular season for another team’s general manager vacancy, so the Giants only could have gotten a jump-start with in-house or independent candidates.
“Quite frankly, our top candidates are people who are all employed right now, so it really would not have given us any advantage,” Mara said. “I didn’t see any need to do that earlier than [Monday] when he announced his retirement.”
Giants assistant general manager Kevin Abrams and former NFL executives Louis Riddick and Scott Pioli — both working as television analysts — did not make the list of nine interviews scheduled.
“All I can tell you is, based on the number of inquiries that I have had from prospective candidates, we’re not going to be able to interview even 20 percent of all of them,” Mara said. “This is a very desirable job.”
Many NFL sources, in conversations with The Post, have questioned the hypocrisy of allowing Gettleman to retire with a 19-46 record after firing Super Bowl-winning general manager Jerry Reese and two head coaches whose tenures were marred by Gettleman’s personnel mishaps.
Unlike the others, Gettleman, 70, was on his last NFL stop. Also, Gettleman was part of a golden era as the Giants’ director of pro personnel from 1999-2011, though the same could be said for Reese, who was fired along with coach Ben McAdoo in the aftermath of the botched benching of Eli Manning in 2017. Only Gettleman was taking photos with his family on the field on a final game day.
The Giants retained Gettleman while firing Pat Shurmur after the 2019 season and again in 2020, despite Mara’s admission that miscalculations made in 2018 under Gettleman had created a multiyear setback. Asked if he regretted not making a GM change earlier in Gettleman’s tenure, Mara avoided the question in a final show of respect.
“I thought that at the end of last season — we finished 5-3 — the arrow was pointing up,” Mara said of the strong eight-game finish to a 6-10 season. “I thought we were moving in the right direction. I thought that the communication at that end of the building was good. And, for whatever reason, things went haywire this year. We reached a point where I just think we need to hit the reset button and get a fresh start.”
Now, the Giants are left to hire a successor with a job advertisement that reads: Dearth of offensive linemen and pass rushers, uncertainty at quarterback and necessity to plug those expensive holes while in salary-cap hell ($2 million over the limit for 2022, according to spotrac.com). The Giants’ biggest selling point is the NFL’s second-best 2022 draft capital, including picks No. 5 and No. 7 in the first round.
“I think this is an organization that people want to work for, so I’ve been heartened by the fact that so many people have expressed an interest, including people who are very talented and who have a legitimate shot at getting the job,” Mara said. “We haven’t been turned down by anybody yet.”