Why go there?

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It was a little surprising to read this. It was somewhat troubling, to be quite honest. I don’t get it. Let’s take a closer look at what I’m talking about . . .

Last July, Jets owner Woody Johnson made a $1 million donation to build a pair of smart homes for two American heroes, veterans who suffered serious injuries in Afghanistan.

“These veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and deserve a home that supports their specific physical needs, to enable them to live independently,” said Johnson last July.

You might be wondering what I found troubling. This was a wonderful gesture by Mr. Johnson. Actually, “wonderful” might be an understatement.

So what is my issue with all this?

Last Wednesday, one of the veterans received the keys to a smart home in Annapolis, Maryland. The Newark Star-Ledger had an article about this. Check out the first sentence.

“You can debate whether the Jets’ Woody Johnson is actually a competent NFL owner. But this is inarguable: Johnson has dedicated large chunks of his time (and considerable fortune) over the years to charitable endeavors.”

That first sentence is pretty nasty.

And what does it have to do with the story?

Why was it necessary to take a shot at Johnson in a lede about a story regarding a classy charitable move by him?

One beat writer surmised that the writer didn’t want to come across as soft by writing a totally flowery piece about Johnson.

After all, the Star-Ledger, and their website, NJ.com, are trying to be a reasonable facsimile of the website, Deadspin, all edge, all the time.

To me, this is unacceptable.

I understand that media outlets don’t answer to the Jets, but does that mean you can’t stand your ground? Tell them, like the great movie line, “We’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

Tell them you are going to limit their access until they apologize.

What the heck does “competent NFL owner” owner mean?

Is Johnson the best owner in the NFL? No, but you know what, there are a lot worse.

The man spends money. I understand it didn’t look like it last year, but I think that was more a long-term cap management strategy than cheapness. Obviously, it didn’t work out well, but I don’t think the man is cheap.

He’s eaten a lot of contract money in recent years to make changes on guys Mike Tannenbaum and Brian Schottenheimer. There are others.

The Jets have a $75 million practice facility, perhaps the best in the league.

I was recently working on a feature on Todd Bowles coaching staff, and it took forever. Why? He has a very, very large staff. Johnson let him hire whoever he wanted. Some teams have much smaller staffs to save money.

You know one reason why Johnson isn’t considered a better owner – he’s never had a franchise quarterback.

In New England, Bob Kraft went from a struggling owner to a genius when a sixth round pick out of Michigan turned into the second coming of Joe Montana.

Great quarterbacks can make owners look like geniuses.

But I’m not here to defend Johnson as an owner. I’m here to say that what the Star-Ledger wrote was way below the belt and unnecessary.

If you noticed, I haven’t blamed the writer yet in this column. Why? Because I’m not sure he wrote it. That lede, to me, sounds like an inside job – somebody on the desk trying to spice the story up. If I find out the writer was responsible, I will write another blog and blame him.

The Star-Ledger/NJ.com operation, which is struggling to survive, is really, really pushing the envelope these day in their sports section – trying to create more interest.

This time, they went too far.

July 6, 2015

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeldhttps://www.jetsconfidential.com
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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