Tisch begins cancer treatments

Updated: August 10, 2004, 7:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Giants co-owner Robert Tisch, who has held a 50 percent ownership in the team since 1991, has inoperable brain cancer.

The team announced Tisch's condition in a brief statement Tuesday from co-owner Wellington Mara and vice president and chief operating officer John Mara.

"We respect the Tisch family's wish for privacy during this tough time," the statement said. "Mr. Tisch is a fighter, and we are going to support him in this fight. Mr. Tisch and his family are in our thoughts and prayers."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called together his players at Tuesday's practice and told them the news.

"Very few of us in the organization knew there was any issue with Mr. Tisch," Coughlin said. "The team is upset. Mr. Tisch is a wonderful guy. He's been great to me."

Tisch was diagnosed within the last week after observers noted he was having memory problems, sources told The Daily News in Tuesday's editions.

No other details would be released, family spokesman Howard Rubenstein said Monday.

Tisch bought half of the team in 1991 from the Wellington Mara's nephew, Tim Mara. The 78-year-old is the chairman of Loews Corp. He served as postmaster general of the United States from 1986-88.

Since buying a share in the NFL team, Tisch has attended most games. He also has made almost weekly visits to Giants Stadium to watch practice and talk to players.

Forbes listed Tisch's worth at $2.3 billion last year. It is not clear what plans have been made for Tisch's share in the team.

``It's a jolt,'' Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan said. ``He's a great man. I remember some of the things we've gone through since I've been here and how good he's always been to me. I'm definitely praying for him.''

Halfback Tiki Barber was upset by the news. He and his wife, Ginny, live in New York City and they have visited Tisch at his Manhattan office.

Barber has done charitable work for Take the Field Inc., a nonprofit corporation founded by Tisch to renovate and rebuild athletic fields at New York City's public schools.

"He gives a ton back, to players and the community," Barber said.

Neither the Giants, nor Howard Rubenstein, a Tisch family spokesman, would give specifics about the brain tumor.

Dr. Alexis Demopoulos of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said there are two primary types of brain tumors, meningiomas and gliomas.

Surgery can be performed on most meningiomas, although some at the base of the skull are inoperable, Demopoulos said.

There are three types of gliomas -- a low grade that strikes people under 40, oligodendrogliomas and glioblastomas.

Glioblastomas are the most resistant to treatment, Demopoulos said.

An estimated 18,450 new cases of cancer to the brain and other nervous systems will be reported in the United States, according to The American Cancer Society's 2004 Cancer Facts and Figures. There will be about 12,690 deaths from the disease this year, the report said.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.