New York Jets owner Woody Johnson finally spoke to the media when promoting the 2014 Super Bowl on Tuesday, and he made several comments that ranged from dumb to outright offensive. Johnson has put his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion during his time as the Jets’ owner, but these latest ones reached a whole new level.
First, Johnson repeatedly defended head coach Rex Ryan, going so far as to say the Jets were “lucky” to have him. Johnson refused to comment on his job security, which is understandable. When it comes to this situation, most fans would disagree, but what else is Johnson supposed to say?
Next came his opinion on the Super Bowl, saying that he was “optimistic” about the Jets’ chances to make it all the way this year. Clearly, Johnson hasn’t been watching too many preseason games. The Jets getting anywhere near the Super Bowl is a ridiculous thought, but then again, there’s nothing wrong with optimism, even if it’s highly unlikely.
Dumb comments, but no big deal right? That’s what I thought, until I got to the gem of his statements. Regarding Mark Sanchez‘s injury, Johnson said, “I wish he hadn’t gotten hurt, but you’ve got to protect yourself too.”
I’m sorry, what? Did you, a billionaire owner who has never played a down of football, just tell your quarterback that his injury was his fault?
Johnson, ever the politician, later tried to backtrack from these comments and clarify that he didn’t mean the injury was Sanchez’ fault. Too little, too late. First of all, I’ve watched every game Sanchez has played for the Jets, and you can question his talent all day, but never his toughness. That guy gets up from every brutal hit and plays through every injury. If he’s hurt, you know it’s serious.
I know football players get paid absurd amounts of money to play the game, and that limits public sympathy. That being said, they still put their bodies on the line and take years off their lives, and nobody makes more money than the owners. So for an owner to blame a player for his own injury is way out of line.
Most importantly, Sanchez was placed in a game that he never should have been in by a coach that Johnson should have fired. He was behind an offensive line of backups, including some who didn’t even make the team. He took a big hit the play before and still got up. Where in any of this did Sanchez do something wrong? He has to protect himself? How, when he’s getting drilled the second he lets go of the ball?
These comments are incredibly disrespectful to his players, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson lost respect around the league for them. If I was a player with a choice between playing for Johnson and a different owner, I’d pick the other guy every time. The comments show Johnson has no clue about football and no respect for the men who make him millions playing it — and it’s sad that he still owns this team.