I Want to Get on the Jets' Merry-Go-Round


MR. Woody Johnson
Owner, New York Jets

Dear Woody,

Enclosed please find a resume presenting my qualifications for the job of Jets' head coach. Frankly, I may not be particularly well-qualified for the position, but given the number of field captains the Jets have run through in the last year, it's only a matter of time before my name comes up. Maybe around game six, 2005?

And please note that unlike many other writers who enjoy flogging the life out of any controversy surrounding the Jets, I'm sincerely concerned. Here's how I can personally help you to rejuvenate this franchise:

  • I love the Cross-Bronx Expressway. The more time I can spend on it, going back and forth between Hempstead and Hackensack­ -- oh, pardon me, I mean East Rutherford -- ­the more I like it. Many of your other candidates dislike commuting 25 miles on the worst congested roads in the United States six or seven days a week, but I love nothing more than looking up the same car's tailpipe for two hours.
  • Though I believe it's a myth that the team was cursed as a result of leaving Queens, and I certainly wouldn't want to say it's haunted by the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa, clearly the Jets are possessed by some demon. Some fancy feng shui will come in handy if you somehow manage to get a stadium shoehorned into the West Side of Manhattan. But if that mountaintop is never reached, I fully support a return to Shea­ -- so long as the Mets restore those chad-shaped, multi-colored metal panels to the stadium's exterior. Failing a repatriation of Flushing, I will campaign for periodic Sunday flooding of the Meadowlands toilets to revive the spirit of past Jet seasons.
  • You more than anyone else ought to agree that it's time to change from that Hess green. Talk about bad luck! In view of the background of Johnson & Johnson, your family's business, let me suggest Band­Aid-colored uniforms: original "flesh"-colored beige for home, Sheer-Strip brown for away games.
  • I'm a guy who can take it. After the end of the season, is my quarterback­who's spent the last few weeks tossing turnovers like a pastry chef­complaining about me to the news media? Fine with me.
  • Is every football fan in a 200-mile radius completely smitten by my legendary twice-Super Bowl-champion boss? Does everyone in earshot second-guess me for the color socks I'm wearing, while meanwhile campaigning for Pappa Bill's elevation to Jets CEO, CFO, Lord High Overseer of Jet Fate, or sainthood? Bring it on.

I wouldn't suggest you send Parcells into exile, like Napoleon. But maybe the real problem is that Parcells is too much beloved. Heck, even if Al Groh had succeeded in beating the traffic, winning the war of words with his most highly paid and erratic players, and emerged with a playoff berth, there's a good chance everyone would have credited Parcells with the triumph.

What's so weird about the Jets' recent fates is that everything they've endured has defied the best intentions of some very competent people, from Leon Hess to Joe Walton to Bill Parcells to Al Groh, and now­well, maybe to Parcells again, or Maurice Carthon. Good guys all.

On the other hand, consider Al Davis. Much as you hate to say it, even his admirers would admit that Raider-owner Davis is about the last guy you'd want to make a handshake deal with. Any rabid Oakland fan who's old enough to recall the great teams from the '70s is old enough to remember hating his guts for leaving the Bay Area for L.A. back in 1982. And yet­here they are in the playoffs.

You never want to suggest that one guy's bad intentions are worth more than a better guys' best, but so long as the Tuna's trying to exercise white-collar authority as "Director of Football Operations," whoever's in the trenches is apt to feel a little bit uneasy-no matter how buddy-buddy they might be with him.

It's a little tough to be top dog when the rest of the pack can see you're on a leash. (There's something to be said for not getting along that well with your boss­does anyone remember Parcells and Giants GM George Young talking about what good friends they were back in the day?)

No incumbent is going to be happy so long as he's uncertain whether the Tuna is the power behind the throne­or the biggest clubhouse lawyer of all, even if it's despite himself.