With the New York Jets training camp set to start in a few weeks, we take a look at some of the offseason news around the team.
Looking back at the history of the New York Jets it’s hard to imagine that Hollywood could produce a better scenario than the real life story of this franchise. Part of that is who their owners have been. We examine the history in part two of our two part series.
After Leon Hess passed away in May of 1999, his estate went into a trust. After months of receiving bids that were handled by Goldman Sachs, the franchise was awarded to Robert Wood Johnson IV, the great-grandson of one of the three founders of Johnson & Johnson. He agreed to buy the team for $ 635 million, the highest price ever paid for a U.S. sports franchise without a stadium included (at the time). Among his competitors to purchase the Jets was Cablevision mogul Charles Dolan. Dolan and his son James have been heavily criticized for their failure in bringing success to the Knicks. Just imagine this franchise possibly being WORSE off.
However, in the uncertainty of the bidding process, the Jets lost Bill Parcells successor, Bill Belichick, because he saw similarity to when he coached the Browns and they moved their franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1995. Belichick has gone on to win 5 Super Bowls, 7 AFC Championships, 14 AFC East division titles and secure his place among the greatest coaches in American pro sports. The irony can’t be ignored. Belichick goes on to unparalleled greatness and the Jets continue down their road of suffering. Below is a summary of the statements made by Johnson upon completion of the sale and being voted in by the NFL.
“I do intend to have preliminary conversations with both Jets president Steve Gutman and Bill Parcells at the earliest possible moment,” Johnson said in statement made upon finishing the purchase. “We hope that we can be successful in fulfilling Mr. Hess’ dream of developing the New York Jets into a championship team.
“In that regard, we want to emphasize that we are totally dedicated to bringing a winning and championship team to this area. We understand and appreciate the difficulties inherent in that goal, but we look forward to working with Steve Gutman and Bill Parcells in developing a first-class organization, which is a cornerstone in developing a winning franchise.”
How do you think Johnson has lived up to what he sold Jets fans back then? Johnson has a losing record in his tenure as New York Jets owner (132-140) and his hires at head coach and general manager have been equally suspect as Hess. Johnson has overseen four hires as head coach. None of them had a winning record (Al Groh was hired by Parcells during the transition of ownership). The last hire Johnson oversaw, he contracted out to Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf. Essentially he excused himself from making the choice, since he knew he was so bad at it. I know that hiring a search committee is now the “in” thing to do when finding an employee, but this is not a CEO position. This is not a marketing and sales position for a Fortune 500 company.
What was more disturbing is that none of them had any history of success. In 2008 and 2015 Johnson had the opportunity to hire Bill Cowher. He didn’t. Successful general managers like Ted Thompson, Kevin Colbert, Ozzie Newsome, Jr, were not considered.
Jets under Woody Johnson
Playoff Appearances: 6
Winning Seasons: 8
When Johnson was nominated for the ambassador position, he said he would hand the responsibilities to running the team to his brother Christopher. Based on his success as owner of the Jets, is England prepared for what is in for?
Even President Trump was critical of Johnson when he chose to initially support Jeb Bush instead of him.
From January 4, 2016 on Twitter
“Woody Johnson, owner of the NYJets, is @JebBush’s finance chairman. If Woody would’ve been w/me, he would’ve been in the playoffs, at least!”
This isn’t the first time a President appointed an NFL owner to an ambassador position. Eight years ago, former president Barack Obama named Steelers chairman Dan Rooney the ambassador to Ireland, the only difference being that Rooney runs not one of the worst organizations in professional sports, but perhaps the most successful team in NFL history, and also is the co-founder of a philanthropic organization created to benefit the country of Ireland and Irish people. Johnson’s ties to the UK don’t exist much beyond the Jets winning against the Dolphins in Wembley Stadium in October 0f 2015.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing for England is a story when the Jets traveled there. Apparently the resident UK expert in the Jets organization was not the new United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, but some intern who had been to London a few times. He noted that the toilet paper is thin over there because of poor plumbing. So naturally the Jets staff ordered 350 rolls of TP to take over there for the hotel and the stadium. That’s nearly seven rolls per player for a stay of a few days.
Johnson and the Jets believed they would encounter poor plumbing that can’t handle thick toilet paper and apparently decided: “Well, we’re only going to be there for a few days, so if we ruin their pipes with our lavish toilet tissue, we’ll be long gone when they have to deal with it.” Perhaps someone should warn the plumbers who have a contract with the home Johnson is staying.
What disappoints New York Jets fans is the fact that they wanted an owner that was present and accountable. While owners like Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are bombastic, they are clearly involved and desperately want to win. Looking at the success Johnson has had in his business ventures, one wonders why he has had such a hard time hiring proven winners to achieve the success he and fans want. Jets fans are hoping his brother can have better success that he had, otherwise the Jets lone football memory – winning Super Bowl III – will continue to loom over this franchise as more of a curse than an achievement.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.