EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Giants owner John Mara believes the team that opens training camp Saturday could be as successful as the franchise's last Super Bowl champion two years ago.
Mara spoke glowingly Thursday in a pre-camp press conference at the team's training center next to MetLife Stadium.
"I look at us on paper and I think we're just as good as that team," he said. "I look forward to every year and it's been a long offseason for us, but we're all ready to get back to work."
The Giants finished 9-7 last season, and in second place in the NFC East, but failed to make the playoffs. Their top draft-pick, offensive tackle Justin Pugh, was signed on Thursday.
"If we hopefully stay healthy, we have a chance to be just as good as anybody," Mara said. "We signed a lot of guys to one-year deals and giving them the opportunity to re-invent themselves a little. But I think we have a solid team. We hope that having the Super Bowl here (at MetLife) serves as a motivation, but there's motivation enough to do well. As long as our quarterback (Eli Manning) is behind center, we have a chance to win."
Mara also announced the team's new partnership with Quest Diagnostics, the world's leading provider of laboratory diagnostic information services. Quest will try to determine peak performance of the players, develop analytics to maximize game-day performances, reduce injuries and improve a player's overall health. As part of the deal, the team's training headquarters — formerly endorsed by Timex — has been renamed the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
"It's exciting to have this kind of partnership," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's much more than signage and marketing. The goal is to keep all athletes healthy. If it means that we're reducing injuries, then it's a great partnership."
Mara said the team and Timex came to an agreement on ending their partnership "quite some time ago."
"Believe me, this did not happen overnight," he said. "We were in discussions with Quest all along. We're happy to have it happen and happen now as training camp opens."
Quest will receive maximum exposure, as well, given the center will be used during Super Bowl week in February.
"It's good timing," Quest CEO Steve Rusckowski said. "The timing worked for all of us. But it's coincidental that the deal came now. We share a passion with the New York Giants and we're building a new business of sports diagnostics."
16W Marketing, a sports-based company, was retained by Quest to evaluate, structure and assist in negotiating the partnership with the Giants.
"This very unique and strategic alliance will provide Quest with a broad platform in which to continue to expand its brand and business initiatives with an organization I have always had the utmost respect for," said Frank Vuono, co-founder of 16W. "Quest operates in a very unique and highly regulated industry, so both parties had to be extremely creative and flexible in order create a mutually beneficial partnership."
Each year, a select group of Giants will be given the opportunity to work with Quest in developing athlete testing.
"It's a different world," Mara said. "Player health and safety is the No. 1 issue in the NFL and this franchise."
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