Commentary

Gang can't even get a firing right

Once again, the Jets -- the team that gave you the Butt Fumble -- dropped the ball

Updated: December 31, 2012, 8:39 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Woody Johnson sacked the top football man in his organization Monday and he responded by impersonating the New York Jets' offense:

A no-show.

Johnson hid behind a press release, avoiding the spotlight. This was one of his biggest decisions in 13 years as the Jets' owner, firing general manager Mike Tannenbaum, and Johnson was nowhere to be seen. All you got were canned quotes from a statement.

[+] EnlargeWoody Johnson
AP Photo/David DrapkinWoody Johnson, by letting a press release do all his talking, only created more uncertainty Monday.

After such a lousy season, and after dumping a loyal employee who gave 16 years to the organization, Johnson owed it to the fans to be out front, explaining the decision, answering questions and taking charge after a second straight non-playoff year.

But there was no news conference, even though Johnson was at the Jets' facility. Talk about ironic. On one of the biggest news days of the year, the team with the loud-mouth reputation went curiously silent.

One hour after e-mailing the Tannenbaum-is-gone press release, the Jets announced that Rex Ryan's end-of-the-season news conference -- scheduled for 4:45 p.m. -- was cancelled. By doing so, they invited speculation about Ryan's future.

Does anybody find that unusual -- the coach and the owner hiding out on a day on which the GM is fired?

This smelled like week-old fish. Suddenly, one of the media-friendly coaches in the league wasn't available? The team never gave a good reason for it, saying only that it was an "organizational decision."

The Jets can't even get a firing right. All they did was create the perception that Ryan might not be on board with the program.

Oh, sure, Johnson said in his statement that Ryan "will remain the head coach of our football team." Interestingly, he saved that for the fourth paragraph, burying part of the lead.

According to several players, Ryan stood in front of the team Monday morning and declared he'd be back. He should've stood in front of the media and said the same thing. Yes, he said it last Friday and he reiterated it after Sunday's game, insisting he wanted to be back. But that was before they canned his GM, the man who hired him. The landscape has changed.

Ryan will be in a precarious position next season, working for a new GM with only two years left on his contract. In other words, he probably will be fired next year if he doesn't make the playoffs. Losing Tannenbaum, though not unexpected, is a blow to Ryan.

Unless they hire an old crony, he'll be evaluated by a total stranger.

So no Ryan, no Johnson, just statements. Across the league on Black Monday, team officials showed up to discuss firings. What do you get from the Jets?

Crickets.

Once again, the Jets -- the team that gave you the Butt Fumble -- dropped the ball.

Johnson and Tannenbaum are close, and there's no doubt it pained Johnson to let him go. It's okay to have human emotion, but when you're the owner of a $1 billion corporation, you have to put it aside and be the face of the franchise. His PSL customers deserved an appearance.

The lack of accountability stretched from the boardroom upstairs to the locker room downstairs. It seemed like half the team avoided the media period, escaping the season as quickly as possible.

Tim Tebow was a no-show; he didn't want to talk to the media. He probably was hurrying to Newark Airport to catch the first flight out of town -- unless, of course, he was leaving the same way he came in March, via private jet.

Santonio Holmes avoided reporters. Bart Scott, who flipped off a photographer last year on getaway day, was nowhere to be found. Mark Sanchez stuck around to talk. So did Mike DeVito, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, LaRon Landry, among others. They answered for the mistakes of many.

After what happened at the end of last season, players ripping players, there seemed to be a concerted effort to avoid controversy.

"The way guys went out media-wise last year wasn't as professional as I think we are," said Sanchez, who took the high road through a difficult season. "I don't think it represented the team very well."

There was plenty of drama throughout the season, most of it surrounding the Sanchez-Tebow dynamic. After Sunday's loss in Buffalo, a disgusted Calvin Pace told reporters, "Go talk to [numbers] 6 and 15."

Joe McKnight said the season-long distractions "kind of messed with us a little bit, but we moved on from it after we finished talking about it."

Thing is, the drama never goes away. It's part of the Jets' DNA. They create it even when they're not trying.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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