Florham Park, NJ – With Woody Johnson across the pond working a full time job as the ambassador to the UK, his little brother Christopher Johnson has taken over day-to-day operations as the owner of the New York Jets. Today was the younger Johnson’s first time speaking to reporters since assuming the full-time duties of leading this organization and while what he did and said today won’t help the Jets win any games on the field this year it will likely build him some goodwill with the media.
Christopher was open, thoughtful and honest – with some generic nothings mixed in for good measure, because let’s be honest in this job that’s a requirement – and while he still invited you to read between the lines at time he colored the lines in much more than his brother ever did. Maybe that was just a rookie mistake, maybe he’ll review the tape and look to correct that in the future but for today he provided more insight than we are use to receiving in these discussions.
Christopher said he is in constant contact with his brother Woody, but they don’t discuss the Jets at all other than someone told Woody that Christopher is doing a good job. While taking over full control of the day-to-day operations of the team is obviously new to Christopher he said he has always been involved in some capacity as Woody, “always bounced ideas off of me.” But while Woody is serving as the ambassador to the UK he will not be involved in any decisions about the Jets whether they are short-term or long-term, Woody told Christopher that “he’s stepping away from football, he has a full time job.”
The organizational structure of this team remains in place with both Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles reporting directly to the owner, only the owner has changed. Christopher said he talks to Maccagnan “almost daily (and) speaks with Todd a little less.” Christopher said he will not be involved in deciding who to play or who should be benched, joking that “that’ll be up to the coaches and Mike (Maccagnan), I’m not Jerry Jones yet.”
Christopher said the Jets are absolutely not tanking, “tanking couldn’t be further from the truth. I want to win every game, the players want to win every game,” but he did come right out and admit that this is in fact a rebuilding year. Christopher was asked why they decided to start the rebuilding process in year three of the Maccagnan and Bowles era and said, “You know, it’s a good question. It’s hard to look back, I mean sometimes you can look back and look real clear, but a couple of years ago we had a pretty good run there. It seemed like we had unlocked some keys to moving forward. Look, what our plan is now, I think it’s a good one and I think it’s the way to bring us forward.” He might not have even realized what he was doing, again it could’ve been a rookie mistake, but Woody never would’ve come close to admitting they were rebuilding.
While it was refreshing to hear Christopher be more open and straightforward than Woody, it was very easy to tell these two are brothers. Christopher rocked the patented white button-down shirt with the tie, has a nearly identical sense of humor and talked about how impatient of a person he is.
“I’m not a patient man, I’m like any fan. I’ve been a fan all my life,” Christopher said. “I want to see progress, I’m not happy with losses but I’m excited about the progression.”
The theme of progression was a constant throughout the press conference with Christopher saying Woody told him, “earlier in the spring to not judge this team on wins and losses, but on progression.” Once the season is over and it’s time to evaluate the roster as well as the General Manager and the coaching staff all decisions will be up to Christopher, with zero input from Woody.
“It’s not going to come down to games (wins and losses), it’ll come down to play on the field and how we’re coming along,” Christopher said. “I’ll evaluate everyone, including myself, but it’s not going to depend on wins and losses.”
While Christopher admitted they are in a rebuilding process – and even said he doesn’t have a specific date in mind when he would start to make judgements based on making or not making the playoffs – he still, like everyone else in the business, has the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl.
“I really want to see happen is for us to go to the Super Bowl, where I’ve promised my brother I’ll leave him two tickets at will call,” Christopher said. “Every little brother wants to show up his big brother.”
When Woody is done serving as ambassador to the UK he resume day-to-day operations as the owner of the Jets, but there is no timetable for his return. Woody did, however leave his younger brother with some parting words or encouragement.
“It’s your team, don’t mess it up.”
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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