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Football matriarch Ann Mara, 85, dies on Super Bowl weekend

By Jessica Tasman-Jones

Super Bowl weekend in the US took on a very poignant tone for NFL team the New York Giants' following the death of second-generation matriarch Ann Mara.

Mara died from complications from a head injury she suffered two weeks ago when she slipped on ice outside her New York City home. She was 85.

The announcement came on Super Bowl Sunday, which saw the New England Patriots take out the Seattle Seahawks 28-24. Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, the Giants have taken out four of the championships.

In a statement, her son John, New York Giants chief executive and president, said: “After a few days, we were hopeful for her recovery, although we knew it would be a long road back. Unfortunately, there were complications.”

He described his mother as “the leader of our family in every way”.

The Mara family, which she had married into in 1954, purchased the Giants in 1925, and retained sole ownership until 1991, when the Tisch family bought out 50%.

Mara's husband, Wellington, was co-chief executive of the team until his death, aged 89, in 2005. The couple had 11 children, and alongside John, their sons Chris and Frank both work in the franchise's front office.

Mara earned the moniker “The First Lady of Football” as she attended nearly every game, both home and away, while she was part of the family business, and the New York team saw unprecedented success after she married into the family. During this time the Giants played for 11 NFL championships – two more than any other team.

In a statement, Giants co-owner and chairman Steve Tisch said: “Like her husband Wellington, Ann was passionate about her faith, her family and her football team. Her energy and enthusiasm for her franchise were unmatched.”

Mara leaves behind her children, as well as 43 grandchildren, including the actresses Kate and Rooney Mara, and 16 great-grandchildren.

In honour of her death, a minute's silence was held at the weekend's Super Bowl.