John Mara finally found his Giants savior in Brian Daboll

A once-proud franchise was broken, and John Mara could not find the right coach to fix it.

Until Brian Daboll showed up as the Savior of the New York Football Giants.

The franchise’s designated successor to Eli Manning was broken following years of negligence, and John Mara could not find the right coach to fix him.

Until Brian Daboll showed up as the Savior of the New York Football Giants.

And on the day the Giants, 38-10 winners over the Colts, got all the way back up from Rock Bottom and made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, a tradition that began with Gatorade baths for Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin continued with Jihad Ward dousing Daboll. “It was sticky and wet,” Daboll said.

And finally, this Everyman who wouldn’t allow himself to publicly utter the word playoffs, punched the air with his right fist to the roar of apoplectic Giants fans and after dancing in the locker room and a necessary shower said: “It means we’ we’re in the playoffs, right?”


“It’ll never be fair to make the playoffs. That’ll never be just our goal,” Daboll said soon after.

Believe me, earning the No. 6 seed in the NFC was plenty good enough and a beginning no one, not even Mara, could have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Brian Daboll salutes the crowd after the Giants' win over the Colts on Jan.  1.
Brian Daboll salutes the crowd after the Giants’ win over the Colts on Jan. 1.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST
Brian Daboll
Brian Daboll is the Giants’ long-awaited savior.

All Brian Daboll did was teach the Giants how to win, how to be smart, tough and dependable, how to fight for each other for 60 minutes — young Giants like Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence and a veteran Giant like Leonard Williams, who had been on the outside of the playoffs looking in for the first seven tortured seasons of his NFL career. And all Brian Daboll did was teach Jones how to be a professional quarterback who put the team on his back with his arm (19-24, 177 yards, 2 TDs) and with his legs (11-91-2 TDs) and earned himself a curtain call and heard the same fans who had booed him on draft day chant his name when he was relieved in the fourth quarter by Tyrod Taylor.

“He’s done a great job keeping the players even-keeled, keeping ’em motivated, doesn’t let ’em get too high or too low… he’s been the same guy every week,” Mara said of Daboll

Mara for too long had been the same miserable guy virtually every week since 2017 once Ben McAdoo abruptly stopped being the Whiz Kid who followed Coughlin and became the Fizz Kid. Pat Shurmur was the adult in the room until beating the Giants became child’s play. Joe Judge at his introductory press conference had everyone likening him to Coughlin and/or Parcells.

Mara finally blew it up and hired GM Joe Schoen, who hired the Savior of the New York Football Giants, and when he was asked as he walked briskly to the locker room what a day like this feels like for the Giants to be back as Giants Mara said:

“It feels like I’m not as miserable as I have been.

“As I’m walking out to my car at the end of the game, they’re not yelling, ‘You suck! Sell ​​the team!’ Mara said, and laughed that long-lost playoff laugh.

Daboll never promised to turn Daniel Jones into Josh Allen. Only into the best version of Daniel Jones.

“I think he just brings out the best in Daniel, he understands his strengths and he’s used him to his strengths,” Mara said.

Brian Daboll, right, embraces Daniel Jones.
Brian Daboll, right, embraces Daniel Jones.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST

It was nearly a year ago when Mara, asked about Jones, said: “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here.”

A little after 4, Mara was saying this about his blossoming franchise quarterback: “He’s what we thought he would be.”

I asked Mara if he had any idea that Daboll, a football lifer who had to wait too long for his head-coaching chance, would be this good. “You never know that for sure,” Mara said.

All the Giants players are grateful for Daboll, perhaps none more than the quarterback.

“He meant a lot,” Jones said. “I’ve learned a lot from him, a lot of football. I’ve grown a lot as a player. I appreciate his support and giving me the chance to go out there and play, so he’s helped me a lot, he’s helped all of us a lot. Definitely grateful for him.”

I asked him why it is so easy to play for Daboll.

“I think his passion for the game, his competitive spirit, all that you respect about him, and makes you want to play for a guy like that,” Jones said.

Barkley referenced Daboll going for the two-point conversion in the season-opening win in Tennessee and said: “You don’t want to go out there and let him down.”

Daboll before the game thought about his beloved late grandparents who had raised him in West Seneca, NY, and passed away after 68 years of marriage early during the 2021 season. “Before the game, but not during the game,” he said. “Usually [during the] national anthem. But now that you mention it, I know they’d be proud.”

At this point in the back of the interview room, Jones entered for his media session.

“Daniel,” Daboll said, “I told them you gave ’em two days off.” Jones, who had broken the team down in the locker room, smiled. “You made that decision.”

Brian Daboll celebrates after the Giants officially clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Brian Daboll celebrates after the Giants officially clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST

Daboll had his 3-year-old son Luke sitting on his lap on the bench before the game.

“He usually does that,” Daboll said.

Did Luke know what was at stake? “He knew,” Daboll said.

So did his daughters, Haven and Avery. “My (7-year-old) daughter (Avery) said, ‘Dad, better win.’ ”

Dad won. Dad is the man who brought the Giants back. But he refuses to take the credit.

“I’d say it’s the biggest sports team there is,” Daboll said. “I appreciate all the help. … We’re all in this together, that’s what I’d say.”

They’re all in the playoffs together, that’s all that needs to be said.


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