Woody Johnson: We're not a circus

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:22 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Owner Woody Johnson took umbrage Thursday with the perception that the New York Jets are a circus, claiming it's a media-driven label.

"I think that's you guys," Johnson told reporters during Jets' practice. "I certainly don't feel that way. We're deadly serious about what we're doing here."

In a 10-minute interview, Johnson, citing his own policy, declined to comment on the future of coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. But he praised Ryan for "unparalleled" success in his first three seasons.

I'm not going to comment on his status, but in terms of my confidence in him, I'm very confident in Rex Ryan. You just have to look at his body of work. It's unparalleled in our history.

-- Jets owner Woody Johnson on coach Rex Ryan

Johnson also admitted the season opener Sunday at MetLife Stadium isn't a sellout, but said the game won't be blacked out on local television. None of the home games will be blacked out, the team said.

Earlier, Ryan also took offense to the notion that the Jets have fostered a circus atmosphere, a criticism fueled, in large part, by the addition of Tim Tebow and unprecedented media coverage in training camp.

"I think our organization is a lot better than people give it credit for," Ryan said. "The circus thing is kind of old for me."

Johnson has been accused of making the Tebow trade to create publicity. He said they're "trying to win games and trying to represent our fans as they expect us to represent them.

"We learned this in third grade -- sticks and stones, all this stuff about calling people names and all that. That's what that is, really. That's a way to sell papers or whatever, but I don't think it reflects & I'm not in this to create a circus environment or any kind of environment except a winning environment."

The Jets failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time in three years under Ryan, but Johnson made it abundantly clear his confidence in the coach hasn't wavered.

"I'm not going to comment on his status, but in terms of my confidence in him, I'm very confident in Rex Ryan," Johnson said. "You just have to look at his body of work. It's unparalleled in our history."

Ryan is 28-20, plus four playoff victories. He and Tannenbaum are under contract through 2014, but Johnson was less effusive about Tannenbaum.

Tannenbaum has been criticized for failing to surround Mark Sanchez with enough weapons. Johnson disagreed, saying, "I think you have a lot of very good weapons, starting with the quarterback."

Johnson declined to make a prediction, but he left no doubt he expects a playoff season. Asked specifically if there's playoff-caliber talent on offense, he said, "Oh, I definitely think so. If you look at our offensive line in terms of No. 1 pick and Pro Bowls, we've got three Pro Bowlers on the line. Nobody has that."

He praised the running backs and receivers, saying the receivers "are as gifted as anybody." In fact, they have only one proven receiver, Santonio Holmes.

Johnson refused to pull a Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles owner who said last week it would be "unacceptable" if Philadelphia finished 8-8 again.

"Some owners have made those comments," Johnson said. "I just prefer to look at it optimistically."

Johnson laughed off the comment he made on national TV last week, when he said, "I think you can never have enough Tebow."

Sanchez responded with sarcasm, saying Johnson was just "selling seats." The owner said he was just trying to be funny.

But seats are a story, as Johnson acknowledged the opener isn't sold out. Nevertheless, the Jets still satisfied the blackout rule by selling the pre-determined number of tickets for the game -- a total set by individual teams before the season.

The Jets do have the highest average, non-premium ticket price in the league at $117.94, according to Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index, which was released Thursday afternoon.

The Jets don't disclose that figure, but it has fluctuated only fractionally since MetLife Stadium opener in 2010. They expect they will reach that number for each home game and don't anticipate having to buy seats on their own to reach that plateau.

The Jets aren't one of the teams utilizing the new blackout rule, which relaxes the ticket-selling standard.

Information from ESPN's Darren Rovell was used in this report.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

EDITORS' PICKS

  • Bear Hugged
    Mistakes, plus not enough breaks, befuddled Geno Smith and the Jets.
  • Pineda Puts Up O's
    Michael Pineda went 7 1/3 giving up just a hit, a walk and no runs vs. the O's.
  • Sudden Comfort
    Eli Manning is beginning to get cozy -- and thrive -- in the Giants' new offense.
  • Extension In The Works
    The Mets are negotiating a new multiyear extension for Sandy Alderson.
  • The Jeter Nobody Knows
    Derek Jeter welcomed fans into his world and revealed he's not who you think.

ALSO SEE