The 2011 Sports Business Awards on Wednesday night turned out for the Jets a lot like the Green & White's past two seasons of football: Nice showing, no trophy, yet plenty of promise for the year ahead.
The Jets were one of five teams nominated for the Professional Sports Team of the Year. But they settled for a runnerup draw with three of those teams as the World Champion San Francisco Giants took the honor, one of the top prizes at the prestigious annual event staged by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily at the Marriott Marquis in the middle of Manhattan.
"They won the World Series. That's a big deal. That was the difference," Jets CEO Woody Johnson said at the end of the evening, standing by the Jets' two tables in the Broadway Ballroom. "That's a pretty amazing accomplishment."
The Jets, as we all know, came up two wins short of a Super Bowl trophy for the second straight year, but they had many attributes that the SBAs love to recognize — a high profile with head coach Rex Ryan and five primetime appearances following their summer run on HBO's "Hard Knocks," and great social networking numbers with the No. 1 ranking in the NFL in Twitter followers and a rising Facebook reputation in the league.
Was Johnson disappointed at all with another close-but-no-cigar finish?
"No," the owner replied. "We were one of the finalists, and the Giants had to win the World Series to beat us."
"Considering the Giants are one of the most innovative teams in sports," added Matt Higgins, executive vice president of business operations, "their winning the award is recognition of all that they've done on and off the field. It's great to see your colleagues get well-deserved recognition."
The Jets came up short in one other category that they were involved in. After they and the New York Giants broke in New Meadowlands Stadium for the 2010 season, they were pleased to find out that NMS was one of six finalists for the Sports Facility of the Year award. But that Tiffany vase went to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
Daktronics, a New Meadowlands Stadium partner, did win an award, being named Best in Sports Technology.
Johnson had one other prominent role in the awards presentation, as the presenter of the Sports Event of the Year crystal, which went to the 2010 ING New York City Marathon.
The 13th annual gala recognized 73 nominees in 15 categories, and the evening flowed much more efficiently than other awards shows, such as, just for example, the Oscars, and the only time the night slowed down, it was no inconvenience at all as the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Billie Jean King by, among others, Chris Evert.