John Mara’s grandson still isn’t speaking to him after Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr.

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Questions for Giants co-owner John Mara, and answers, on the trade of franchise receiver Odell Beckham Jr. 13 days ago:

FMIA: How hard was it for you to do this?

Mara: “I had very mixed feelings about it because I happen to like the kid. I really do. I have two grandsons who sobbed uncontrollably when I called to tell them that we had traded him … one of whom is still not talking to me. They both said they’re going to be Browns fans this year. So that’s the effect he has. They’re 7 years old and they think he’s a god. I liked him a lot personally. He’s different. He’s not a bad kid.

“Dave [Gettleman, the Giants’ GM] and I had a long talk about it. When the Browns made their final offer, I wanted to know—You and Pat [Shurmur] both want to do this? You’re sure? You’re absolutely sure? I still said I had to think about it. Then I called him back a little bit later.”

FMIA: I thought you had to be thinking of Lawrence Taylor, and if your organization could put up with Taylor, surely you could put up with Beckham.

Mara: “There’s an old Bill Parcells quote: ‘Lawrence Taylor is the pilot of a burning plane. ‘ Somehow he managed to keep the plane from crashing. But we got … we had a lot of holes to fill. Getting the first-round pick, getting the third-round pick, getting our fourth back from the [Kevin Zeitler] trade. You can argue whether it’s comparable value. I felt better about that than about previous offers that had come down the pike. And he was going out of the conference! Out of the division, so it was a reluctant OK.

“Of course we want to keep our best players. Listen, I had many conversations with him. He had the stupid penalty in Philadelphia where he lifted his leg in the end zone [in a faux dog-urination scene] and I brought him into my office and I showed him the front page of the New York Post and said, ‘Is this what you want? Is this what you want your legacy to be?’ He looked at me and he said, ‘Well you know, I just don’t understand the celebration rules.’ I said, ‘Well you know you can’t do that!’ “

FMIA: Sounds like you’re pretty motivated as a team to build your lines back up in the draft.

Mara: “I don’t know what we’re going to do—whether we’ll take a quarterback or not. My response is show me what the grades are. But don’t force a pick. The worst thing we can do is force it. If we have to wait another year, I don’t want to have to do that, but if we have to, I’d rather do that than force it. This thing now about everyone asking, ‘What’s the plan? What’s the plan?’ We’re trying to build the roster! What do you want me to tell you? ‘Yeah, we’re gonna take a quarterback at six? The plan is to build the roster!’ It’s exasperating. But I learned a long time ago that you’re defenseless when you lose. There’s nothing you can say. We’ve got to build our team, and we’ve got to win.”

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NFL fans apparently don’t want an 18-game regular season

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In the news this week, as the league gets back to business for the 100th season of American professional football:

• The owners and players meet Wednesday in another formal bargaining session for a new CBA. A three-day meeting is scheduled between the NFL’s Management Council and the NFLPA’s Executive Committee (a 10-player unit including president Eric Winston and VPs Richard ShermanBenjamin Watsonand Adam Vinatieri). This will be the fourth bargaining session between owners and players this spring/summer, with the hope being the two sides can reach an agreement on a new bargaining agreement in 2019. (The CBA has two more seasons to run, and expires in the spring of 2021.)

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently told CNBC that it is “certainly our intent” to try to get a new CBA before the start of the season. In a round of calls Saturday, I got some optimism from a team source who felt the chance of making a deal on a new CBA was 50-50 this year if the union would stick with the current economic formula of the game; currently players get about 47 percent of the game’s gross revenue.

But I talked to a source on the player side who wasn’t nearly as hopeful, in part because he felt the players need a bigger cut of the pie to agree to a new deal two seasons out from the end of the current CBA. This person called the first three meetings positive, but baby steps toward a deal. I do know that there have not been any significant discussions on a change in the revenue split yet. Those talks will have to progress for anything to get done.

• The 18-game schedule is nowhere near a reality. I heard that one or two teams are interested in what the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the NFL has proposed discussing with the players as part of the CBA talks: an 18-game regular-season schedule, with each player eligible to play a maximum of 16 games. This is not a new idea—it’s been thrown around at league meetings as one idea to expand the inventory and enrich the league’s TV deals for years.

“I can’t see it,” one plugged-in club official told me. “Imagine you pay to see Tom Brady and the Patriots, and the Patriots announce that week it’s one of the two games he’ll sitting out this year. Now you’re seeing Brian Hoyer throw to some practice-squad guy. I don’t see any way we could ever do that.”

I’ve always thought in an era when the reduction of head trauma is job one in everything the league does, the only way the NFL could even consider 18 games is with teams playing players a maximum of 16 weeks. But the details make it too hard. How would a team divvy up the starts, say, for the starting offensive line? Would they figure the starting tackles should play every week with the starting quarterback, and thus doom the backup in his two games to a run-for-your-life offensive scheme?

The continued pursuit—or the continuing broaching—of an 18-game schedule is such a short-sighted and greedy thing. The NFL paid each team $275 million out of the league share of total revenue in 2018, and teams paid about $215 million annually in player costs (cap plus benefits). After that, teams can reap major raw profits over what they did in local team revenue.

Someone in the NFL seems determined to kill the most golden of geese by pursuing, even in a passing way, this stupid idea. Greed, in this case, is not good.

• Fans don’t want 18 games either. I put out a Twitter poll Saturday and Sunday, asking if readers preferred a 16 or 18-game schedule. Of 13,533 voters, 79 percent said 16. Great comment from a Vikings fan, Jason Altland: “If I pay out the nose for decent tickets in Baltimore or New York to see my Vikings, I want to see all the healthy stars play. I don’t want to pay and end up with a [Stefon] Diggs or {Adam] Thielen bye game.”

Pro Football Talk also polled its readers over the weekend about the 16/18-game idea, with more options than I offered … and 62 percent said they favored 16 games—with 8 percent saying they favored 18 with a maximum of 16 games per player per season.

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Why Melvin Gordon’s holdout with the Chargers could get ugly

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I think this Melvin Gordon-Chargers impasse could get ugly. The Chargers running back, entering his fifth season, could hold out from training camp into the season if he doesn’t get either a new contract or a significant raise from his $5.6-million salary in 2019. There’s a few reasons the holdout could last a while, starting with the fact that Chargers GM Tom Telesco, who grew up in the Bill Polian front office of the Colts, is not afraid to take a hard line. But mostly, it’s about what happens in recent years when teams have either paid runners or drawn a hard line with them. Examples:

• Le’Veon Bell balked at the Steelers’ offer of $14.5 million on the franchise tag last year. James Conner wasn’t quite as productive as vintage Bell—270 touches, 1,470 yards, 13 touchdowns—but he was close. And Conner, who made $754,572 last year, cost 1/19th of what Bell would have commended. No one in Pittsburgh is bemoaning the loss of Bell, though he’s a great player.

• Todd Gurley is a great back too, and the Rams paid a guaranteed $45 million last year. They’ll say they aren’t regretting what they paid Gurley, but an odd and persistent knee problem last year limited him to 88 carries in the Rams’ last nine games—including a 35-yard rushing performance in the Super Bowl. The Rams picked up C.J. Anderson off the street in December, and in five games, he rushed for 488 yards.

• David Johnson of the Cardinals responded to his new $13-million-a-year deal on the eve of the 2018 season by rushing for 940 yards (3.6 yards per carry).

• Devonta Freeman signed with Atlanta for $22 million guaranteed in 2017. He’s missed 16 of the Falcons’ last 32 regular-season games and averaged 58 yards per game in the 16 he’s played.

In 30 games over his two NFL seasons, Charger understudy Austin Ekeler has proven elusive and reliable, averaging 5.3 yards per rush and 10.3 yards per catch, with just two lost fumbles. I don’t think Telesco will be afraid to take the slings and arrows of a holdout. So if you’re drafting your fantasy team very early, I’d give a long look at Ekeler.

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