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Don't Mess with My Woody

 

Players don't often get an opportunity to talk to the owners of the team. A normal interaction between a player and an owner is casual and quick. "Hi, how's the kids?" and then poof they're gone. During my time with the New York Jets, my interaction with Woody Johnson wasn't too far from that. He always led with a firm shake, a quick compliment and a small conversation to check the temperature of the tea, then he was off. Honestly, it never bothered me at all.  He was never rude to me, nor did he walk around the locker room like a warden of prison. I was honored to get the VIP invite to his private Christmas parties. It was not an open invitation to all.  Any time we walked off the field after a win, he would be waiting in the locker room. He was always excited to greet the guys and say nice work.  Outside of not winning enough games as a NY Jet, my only regret is not having the opportunity to pick Woody's brain and learn more about him. It would be ridiculous to think I would ever get to know him on a personal level.  

Now we do have one thing in common, we both have a strong disdain for the auto immune disease lupus. When I landed with the Jets, I was asked to be apart of the Alliance Lupus Research (ALR), a foundation started by Woody Johnson to find a cure for lupus. If I could have one wish, it would be to learn more about the man behind the green tie and thick bifocals. What makes him tick? How does he remain a successful business man?  What's his thought process when it comes to hiring coaches?  

Chris Johnson, Woody's younger brother, stepped in while Woody was in the U.K. sipping gin and shaking hands on behalf of the United States.  Chris had a swagger to him. He was confident, eager to listen to the players from past and present. I was gone by the time Chis stepped in, but I did have some one on one time with him at a charity function. He's sharp and I could tell why so many guys in the locker room spoke highly of him. 

When the story came out about Woody Johnson making some unsettling remarks, I didn't know how to feel.  If the story is true, the man that I had grown to know and respect was all an act.  I can remember my phone ringing off the hook from beat writers who wanted to get a quote from me that would expose the real Woody Johnson, as if I had that information.  Woody will eventually have to speak about his time in the U.K and his relationship with Trump moving forward. To be honest, it is what is at this point. As far as me, I can only speak on our encounters. He was nice to my wife, respectful to both of us and allowed me to pursue my media career while I was still playing for the Jets. Always treated my teammates with respect and supplied the team with the best. From our travel plane, to the food in the cafeteria, to the facility as a whole. The Jets are spoiled in that regard.  

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Now that Woody is back with the team. His next move as the owner should be to get Jets Nation excited about their new young  quarterback Zack Wilson.  Ignite a winning culture that's attractive to free agents.  He needs to sift out the bad apples in the locker room if there are any and know that winning is the ultimate deodorant because the Jets have stunk it up long enough.  Eventually the Jets will get back to playoff football. Welcome back Woody. It's time to get the green and white back on Broadway. New York has been waiting long enough.

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