Woody Johnson: Tebow trade not done to sell tickets
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Woody Johnson feels your pain, Jets fans.
Although he refused to discuss the long-term futures of his coach and general manager, the owner made it clear he's unhappy with where his team is.
"I didn't sign up for a 3-6 season," Johnson said Thursday. "We haven't had one of these in a while."
Johnson, who held court for more than 10 minutes during the outdoor morning practice, called the Jets' most recent game -- a 28-7 loss in Seattle -- "a miserable experience for us" and for their fans.
But perhaps worse than losing, for him, is being portrayed as an executive who cares more about PSL profits than wins. Johnson fired back at the media for "accusing" him of acquiring Tim Tebow in March simply to sell seats.
"Listen, my job 1, 2 and 3 is to win games," Johnson said, calling speculation that he had a heavy hand in bringing the backup quarterback on board a "phony story. . . . That's where my passion is, that's what I want to do, that's why I'm spending all this time in this organization. Not to sell PSLs or to sell hot dogs."
It seems Johnson may have forgotten that his own starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, helped float the assumption shortly before the 2012 opener. Sanchez jokingly said Johnson's motive for declaring "you can never have too much Tebow" back in August was about "selling seats, man."
Nevertheless, Johnson maintained that Tebow is "no different" from other signings and that "the coaches and the general manager make those decisions."
Johnson remained tight-lipped when pressed for a performance evaluation of Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum, but he replied: "I think the record says what's going on. We're a 3-6 team. Are we happy? Are they happy? Are the players happy? I know the fans aren't happy. The answer's no. We're not happy with 3-6."
The Jets have a record of 11-14 since making back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances after the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But a testy Johnson insisted that his team isn't in a downward spiral.
"Absolutely not," he said. "We know what the body of work is. We're going forward. We've got seven games to go and we're going to try to win those games. And I'm optimistic."
If the Jets can cut down on turnovers and penalties, he said, they can turn around their season.
"I think we're close," he said. "I think if we don't get in our own way, we can do it."
Johnson wouldn't say whether he's happy with the decision to give up fourth- and sixth-round picks for Tebow because "I don't look at individual trades . . . We think every player that we bring in has something to add to the team and help us win games."
Johnson did, however, reiterate his commitment to Sanchez, saying: "He is our franchise quarterback. I don't view him that way, that's what he is."
Johnson also blasted the anonymous rip jobs of Tebow this week as "cowardly" behavior. Like Ryan, however, he believes the negative stories could help unify the team.
"Anonymous people don't speak for the New York Jets," said Johnson, who called the team "really tight-knit.''
He added, "Put your name on it. If you have a criticism, hey, stand up and we'll be glad to talk to you about it. But I think it is having an effect of, maybe, bringing the guys closer."