Woody Johnson, the chairman of the New York Jets, is back from his post as ambassador to the United Kingdom, where they play football of a different kind. He said that he could not be happier to be with the organization when he met with reporters at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
"It was hard to be away from something you love, but I had a new assignment working in the interest of the American people," Mr. Johnson said. "But this is the best job you can have in the world, to be involved with a sport you love, involved with the New York Jets and put a winning team together."
Mr. Johnson has been at the training center, taking in practices during the recent voluntary OTAs and this week's mandatory minicamp. He said that he's been impressed with the players and the Jets' new coaching staff.
"I don't think patience is a word I would use, I feel here with this team I feel something that could be special but it's early," Mr. Johnson said. "We're getting better every day, we'll do everything in our power to put a winning team on the field this year. We've got the right team [of coaches] in place and they've done a credible job so far. Yes we want to win, we're in the win business. We didn't sign up to lose, our players are not used to losing and we want to win.
"I've seen good things, but they're still in shorts. We have a coach who meets every day at 9 a.m. with the players and if that all comes together good things are going to happen. I really see a tremendous vibe on the field and in the classrooms and that gives me hope, a lot of hope."
He added: "When you go to the field you can see the players with a little pep in their step and it's really good to see."
Now that he's back as the head of the Jets, Mr. Johnson said he will be involved, but only up to a point.
"I think I'll be pretty involved, not in terms of picking players and calling plays, but similar to what I did in the embassy, encouraging people, and here letting the coaches and the players know we care for them."
Mr. Johnson also complimented General Manager Joe Douglas and Head Coach Robert Saleh.
On Saleh: "I'm very impressed with Robert Saleh. He grew up in Dearborn, MI, in a community that you wouldn't expect football to be the center of life. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to see things about that journey that gives him that strength. He's unique in his ability to communicate. He's got a tremendous philosophy. I think it's a winning philosophy."
On Douglas: "Joe was for 18 years as an apprentice, it's amazing how long it takes to get good at this job. His relationship with Ozzie Newsome was amazing. I'm impressed with his demeanor, he's calm. And he'll tell you the truth, no bs. He's not going to tell you anything that he doesn't believe."
Like so many Jets and NFL fans, Mr. Johnson is looking forward to the first home game (Sept. 19 against the Patriots) at MetLife Stadium.
"It's going to be great to be back to go to the full stadium to go out in the parking lot and talk to the fans and see what they're cooking and see all that stuff," Mr. Johnson said.