New York Jets Most Wanted: Top 20 villains in team history – Part 3 (5-1)

Darth Vader. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)
Darth Vader. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney) /
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New York Jets
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) /

5. Woody Johnson

As a businessman and football team owner, New York Jets’ Woody Johnson is the polar opposite of New England’s Robert Kraft. Whereas Kraft is mostly a self-made success, Johnson is old money and an heir to a mega-conglomerate. Kraft is involved with operations of the team and often acts as the face of the organization. Johnson is more of an absentee owner.

Management styles will always differ, but Johnson’s passion is politics, not football. Football is more like a hobby or status symbol. He currently serves as the United States ambassador to England. In his stead, younger brother Chris Johnson currently serves as the New York Jets’ Chief Executive Officer.

In business, a company’s culture starts at the top. Johnson has provided none. As a result, the Jets have lacked a team identity. Additionally, Johnson’s stunning lack of vision (other than the failed West Side Stadium project) has held back Gang Green since he bought them on January 8, 2000.

Johnson has often talked about building a winner. Most Jets fans would say he doesn’t have the first clue as to how. Maybe that goes back to how he came up. There is a vast difference between being a blue blood and donning a blue-collar to create something. Among his lack of accomplishments in 20 years as an owner, the New York Jets have:

  • Not made the playoffs since 2010, which includes one season (2015) with an over .500 record.
  • More double-digit losing seasons (7) than playoff appearances (4)
  • Not won the AFC East since 2002 (they did it that year with a 9–7 record).
  • Had six head coaches (not including Bill Belichick’s 48 hours)
  • Had nine different quarterbacks lead the team in season passing yards

The longer he has owned the team, the further they get from the promised land. For a rough comparison to Johnson, the team is like the toy a child has lost interest in and put on a shelf. It’s really cool, and occasionally it comes off the shelf to impress friends. The impression is that Johnson wants the New York Jets to run on “set it and forget it” mode. Which would be fine with everyone if he could only find the “win setting.”

In that regard, his hires at the upper management level have been horrendous. Thankfully New York City has James Dolan and Fred Wilpon to pick on. Otherwise, Johnson would have been a regular fixture on the back pages of area tabloids with accompanying articles about his incompetence.