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Jets' Johnson: I didn't question Goodell's integrity

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson watches warmups

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson watches warmups at Giants Stadium. Photo Credit: Freelance/John Dunn

In his first public comments since criticizing the NFL's handling of the scheduling of the Jets' and Giants' home openers, Jets owner Woody Johnson Wednesday stood by those remarks. Johnson, however, said he was not questioning commissioner Roger Goodell's integrity and was moving forward now that the matter had been resolved.

"I stood by the principles I believe in, and that's the way I handled it," Johnson said. "I think that Roger knows where I'm coming from and there's no disrespect to his intelligence, his integrity or anything. We had a disagreement."

Johnson said he had no regrets about issuing a statement Monday night, in which he said "the league departed from our time-honored tradition and declined the opportunity to set the matter straight with a transparent process."

"No regret," Johnson said. "I think the statement reflected exactly what I wanted."

Johnson and Goodell met Monday to discuss the issue, and spoke again briefly Wednesday on a conference call among several owners preparing for next week's annual spring owners meetings in Orlando.

"This is not Mount Vesuvius, it's a skirmish," Johnson said. "We have to move forward and work together. We'll have disagreements in the future, and so will other owners, but we'll show up the next day and try to do a better job. You have 32 owners, and we don't all agree on the same thing at the same time. The commissioner has to sort through all that and be able to run the league, and that's a special skill set."

Johnson had expressed his dismay at the process used by Goodell to determine which team would be the first to play at the Jets' and Giants' $1.6-billion stadium at the Meadowlands. Goodell decided to have both teams play at home on opening weekend, with one team playing Sunday and the other on Monday night. He flipped a coin at the league's offices in Manhattan to determine that the Giants would play Sunday and the Jets on Monday.

Johnson said he initially asked Goodell to flip a coin, but was rebuffed. Goodell then decided to flip a coin once he settled on both teams playing at home on opening weekend, and he informed the teams Friday of his decision.

Asked whether his reaction would have been different if the Jets had won the coin toss, Johnson said: "I'm not going to speculate on that. We had a disagreement, and we'll leave it at that."

Goodell was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but is said to have moved on and is not holding any negative feelings toward Johnson.

Johnson also said he doesn't believe his reaction will cause any problems relating to a Jets-Giants bid to host the 2014 Super Bowl.

"I don't link the Super Bowl bid with the stand I took earlier in the week," Johnson said. "I wasn't even thinking of the Super Bowl bid, because I don't think they're related. The Super Bowl bid is given on the merits of that particular event, not on other factors."

There is some concern that Johnson's remarks may have a negative effect on other owners about whether the teams can work together successfully on their Super Bowl bid. But Johnson said that would not be a problem.

"The Giants and Jets get along well in terms of operating the stadium, but we are competitors on the field, so that hasn't changed," Johnson said. "John Mara, and Jonathan and Steve Tisch and I will move forward and do everything we can to get this Super Bowl for 2014."

Mara, in his first public remarks Wednesday since Goodell's announcement about opening weekend, expressed optimism about hosting the Super Bowl.

"We will continue to work with the Jets to formulate a bid and presentation that will make the best case for New Jersey and New York to host the Super Bowl in 2014," Mara said in a statement. "Our partnership has produced a great new home field for both teams and their fans, and we hope to bring the Super Bowl and all of its tremendous benefits to the region."

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