Jets owner Woody Johnson did not waste time cleaning house. Even before the dreary 2014 season ended he made it clear that there would be a shakeup as he hired longtime NFL insiders Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf to head a search committee.
Once Jets head coach Rex Ryan learned of their hiring he started cleaning out his office and more or less admitted to the media that he knew that he was a goner. To his immense credit, Rex remained upbeat to the end, and as had been the case throughout his six-year tenure with Gang Green, refused to criticize either his players or the front office who did not give him a lot of talent to work with the last four years. My guess is that Atlanta Falcons owner and Flushing native Arthur Blank will make Rex an offer he can’t refuse.
Woody showed that he wasn’t an out of touch rich owner at his year-end press conference. He basically admitted that he made a big mistake hiring John Idzik to be the Jets general manager two years ago but denied that the large group of fans who took out billboards and hired planes to fly over the Jets’ Florham Park, NJ practice facility, affected his decision. I have a feeling that Woody is not being entirely truthful about that.
He conceded that Idzik didn’t do the Jets any favors by keeping the team some $20 million under the NFL team salary cap for 2014 although he did say that Idzik’s thinking was to have some money in reserve in case something unforeseen happened during the season. Idzik was able to use some of those rainy day funds to acquire wide receiver Perry Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks but by that time the Jets were 1-7 and a playoff berth was a pipedream.
Buffalo Bills head coach and Bronx native Doug Marrone opted out of his contract on New Year’s Eve. He may not have been happy in Buffalo but no one leaves a $4 million a year job unless they are guaranteed to land elsewhere. My guess is that Marrone’s agents made it clear to friends of Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf that their client would be amenable to changing teams. The Jets did not want to be accused of tampering so it’s safe to assume that proxies were used in a manner similar to that of sensitive international diplomacy initiatives.
I am also going to guess that an agency such as IMG, which to sports what the William Morris Agency is to entertainment, will put together a general manager/head coach package for the Jets so that it doesn’t matter whether the Jets hire a head coach before a general manager or vice versa because everyone will be on the same page unlike the Idzik-Ryan debacle.
Woody Johnson was careful to refer to potential general manager candidates as “he or she” at his press briefing. I thought that Johnson might be inclined to interview former Oakland Raiders CEO and current CBS Sports NFL personality Amy Trask for the job but her name has not surfaced in any subsequent reports. Trask grew up in the LA suburb of Brentwood but her parents grew up in Queens.
Johnson also took some heat for saying that he would be glad to have onetime Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis rejoin the team in the future. Johnson had a torturous business relationship with Revis because of his inclinations to always renegotiate his contract. John Idzik did not want to anger his boss by trying to re-sign Revis after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers parted ways with him because of cost. That turned out to be a major blunder. Woody was merely saying that he did not harbor a grudge against the talented CB and understood that business is business. Some Mr. Magoo types in the media who were looking for a nonexistent story tried to accuse Johnson of tampering since Revis is currently a member of the New England Patriots.
“Don’t trust anyone over 30!’ was a famous slogan in the 1960s. Given the serious knee injuries incurred by both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony perhaps the new motto for NBA fans should be “Don’t expect much from superstars once they reach 30!”
While the grind of running up and down the court, diving for loose balls, and fighting it out for rebounds, all take their toll on even the best players, Knicks head coach Derek Fisher pointed to frequent air travel as another culprit for leg problems. “We make sure that our players wear specialized compression clothing when flying. We also have ice compression machines on our flights,” Fisher said before the Pistons-Knicks game on Friday. Alas, Fisher didn’t offer any tips for the average person who flies a lot.
The less said about the Pistons game, the better. The Knicks were without Tim Hardaway, Jr., Samuel Dalembert, Iman Shumpert, Amar’e Stoudemire, and of course, Carmelo Anthony, so the odds of them breaking their nine-game losing streak, even to the lowly Detroit Pistons, were slim. The Knicks who did play gave it their best but by the third quarter they were down by 30 points and wound up losing by a score of 97-81. The final score was somewhat respectable only because the Pistons’ foul shooting was awful and their shot selection and clock management skills left a lot to be desired.
Knicks guard Tim Hardaway was talking with someone before the Pistons game about how happy he was that former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was going to be the new football head coach of his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Tim did not argue when I mentioned to him that some Michigan taxpayers may not be happy that a public university in that fiscally troubled state might object to Harbaugh earning $8 million per year.
I had a chance to chat with Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi, the only Israeli player in the NBA, last Monday at the Barclays Center before his team took on the Nets. He confirmed that his uniform number, 18, wasn’t given to him by chance. 18 or “chai” in Hebrew means life and it’s the most important number in Judaism.
If you are priced out of seeing a Rangers hockey game, then you should consider going to Madison Square Garden this Saturday night to see those two snooty Ivy League schools, Harvard and Yale, go at it on the ice. The game is being called simply “The Rivalry.” My guess is that things won’t be very gentlemanly once the puck is dropped.