New York Giants matriarch Ann Mara dies at 85

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New York Giants matriarch Ann Mara dies at 85
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Ann Mara holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning holds aloft the Vince Lombardi Trophy as a float of New York Giants heads up the Canyon of Heroes during a ticker-tape parade, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 in New York. With the Giants quarterback are, left to right, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Giants co-captain Justin Tuck, Manning, and Ann Mara, right, widow of the late Giants owner Wellington Mara. Behind Ann Mara is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Giants defeated the New England Patriots Sunday in the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2008, file photo, Ann Mara, the widow of former New York Giants' owner Wellington Mara, is interviewed after getting off a team bus at Giants Stadium Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Mara, the matriarch of the NFL's New York Giants for the past 60 years, died Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. She was 85. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, file photo, New York Giants owner John Mara holds the trophy with chairman Steve Tisch, back right, and Ann Mara after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 to win Super Bowl XLII football game at University of Phoenix Stadium on in Glendale, Ariz. Ann Mara, the matriarch of the NFL's New York Giants for the past 60 years, died Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. She was 85. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Ann Mara (L) and New York City Mayer Michael Bloomberg attend the New York Giants Victory Parade following their Super Bowl XLVI win down the Canyon of Heroes on the streets of Manhattan on February 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: (L-R) NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, Justin Tuck, MVP Eli Manning, Quarterback of New York Giants and Ann Mara attend the New York Giants Victory Parade following their Super Bowl XLVI win down the Canyon of Heroes on the streets of Manhattan on February 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, New York Giants matriarch Ann Mara, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg ride in the New York Giants Victory Parade following their Super Bowl XLVI win down the Canyon of Heroes on the streets of Manhattan on February 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Giants Co-owner Jon Tisch pass the Vince Lombardi trophy to New York Giants matriarch Ann Mara as Eli Manning looks on during the New York Giants Victory Parade following their Super Bowl XLVI win down the Canyon of Heroes on the streets of Manhattan on February 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) John K. Mara, president, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants, his mother Ann Mata hold the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Ann Mara and New York Football Giants co-owner/son John Mara attend the Ninth Annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund 'Champions For Children Gala' at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
John Mara, president and CEO of the New York Giants, center, stands behind his wife, Denise, and mother, Ann, during a party hosted by Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints, for NFL team owners in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The party in City Park kicked off a weekend of festivities before Super Bowl XLVII. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Ann Mara, mother of John Mara, co-owner of the New York Giants celebrates with the Vince Lombardi trophy after the won 17-14 against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Terry Bradshaw interviews John K. Mara, president, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants, his mother Ann Mata as they hold the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Surrounded by family, Ann Mara, center, widow of New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, leaves St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York after his funeral Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Mara, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997, died Tuesday at age 89. He became co-owner of the Giants in 1930 and was the face of the franchise for more than half a century. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Pallbearers carry the coffin of New York Giants owner Wellington Mara into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York as his wife Ann, center, looks on with family, Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Mara, who became co-owner of the Giants in 1930, died Tuesday at age 89. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
New York Giants President and CEO John Mara, right, poses with his family including his sister, Susan McDonald, left, brother Chris Mara and his mother Ann Mara during the unveiling of plans for the new home of the NFL football New York Giants and New York Jets, next to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
New York Giants outside linebacker Michael Boley, left, holds a video camera as he arrives with members of New York Giants NFL football team, including owner John Mara, center back, and his mother Ann Mara, right, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in Newark, N.J. A day earlier, the Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: (L-R) New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Giant's Co-owner Ann Mara and Judy Coughlin attend the 2014 Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation's 'Champions for Children Gala' at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
John Mara, president and CEO of the New York Giants, center, stands behind his wife, Denise, and mother, Ann, during a party hosted by Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints, for NFL team owners in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The party in City Park kicked off a weekend of festivities before Super Bowl XLVII. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Ann Mara attends the Ninth Annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund 'Champions For Children Gala' at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Ann Mara and New York Football Giants co-owner/son John Mara attend the Ninth Annual Tom Coughlin Jay Fund 'Champions For Children Gala' at Cipriani 42nd Street on October 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Ann Mara, the matriarch of the NFL's New York Giants for the past 60 years, has died. She was 85.

Giants co-owner John Mara announced his mother's death on Super Bowl Sunday. Ann Mara slipped in front of her home in Rye, New York, during an ice storm two weeks ago and was hospitalized with a head injury the following day. While there were initial hopes for recovery, John Mara said, complications developed and she died early Sunday surrounded by her family.

Ann Mara and her children owned 50 percent of the Giants, one of the founding families of the league, since the death of her husband, Hall of Famer Wellington Mara, in 2005. While she was not active in daily operations, her opinion was valued greatly.

"Mrs. Mara was a tower of strength, dignity and inspiration for her family and all of us in the NFL," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Her family and the Giants organization have always reflected Mrs. Mara's competitive spirit, integrity, and wonderful sense of humor. Our thoughts and prayers are with John Mara and the entire Mara family."

Ann Mara was a prominent philanthropist who supported educational organizations. Mara also helped children with cancer through the Ronald McDonald House of New York. In November, she dedicated the opening of a new building for the San Miguel Academy for children at risk, which was built through the NFL Snowflake Foundation.

Three days before MetLife Stadium - the home of the Giants and Jets - was the site of the Super Bowl last year, Ann Mara received the Paul J. Tagliabue Award of Excellence. It is presented to a league or team executive who demonstrates the integrity and leadership that he exhibited in career development opportunities for minority candidates and advocacy for diversity on the league and club level when he was NFL commissioner.

"She has been the leader of our family in every way, and we will miss her dearly," John Mara said.

Married to Wellington Mara in 1954 after a chance meeting in a Roman Catholic church, Ann Mara attended almost every Giants home and away game. She was a fierce defender of the team.

After the Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 NFC Championship game en route to their fourth Super Bowl title, she approached Fox broadcaster and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, poking his arm to get his attention.

"You never pick the Giants," Ann Mara said.

Bradshaw turned toward the camera and said, "I know. I know. I'm sorry. I'm getting hammered for not picking the Giants."

Ann Mara, sometimes referred to as "The First Lady of Football," also let her sons know how she felt. Three of them work in the Giants' front office. Along with John, Chris is the senior vice president of player evaluation and Frank is the vice president of community relations.

She used to like to remind John Mara that "you're an employee.'"

When the Giants missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year this past season, John Mara, who serves as president and chief executive, was asked how his mother felt.

"She is not very happy with me right now, believe me," John Mara said. "She suffers through this probably even more so than I do. I am on notice as well."

Current and former Giants players reacted to the death on social media.

"Rest in Peace Mrs. Mara. My prayers also for The Mara family. What a great woman!!!!" wrote current Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck, a member of the 2008 and 2012 Giants Super Bowl champions.

Giants safety Antrel Rolle called Ann Mara an angel and a blessing in his five years with the team.

"I absolutely love this woman! She had a smile that would brighten anyone's day. She was our fighter & backbone," Rolle tweeted.

Born Ann Mumm in New York City on June 18, 1929, Mara is survived by 11 children, 43 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. One of her grandchildren, Chris' daughter Rooney Mara, was nominated for an Oscar for best actress for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" in 2012.

Funeral plans are pending.

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