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Jets Owner Plans a New Long Island Tradition


2008 Green and White Practice Photos

Long before the Jets took the field for their annual Green & White practice, Woody Johnson hosted a small group of beat reporters at Chrebet's restaurant in Hempstead. The Jets' CEO and Chairman held an informal Q&A over lunch, covering a myriad of topics and starting with a bang.

When Johnson was asked who he liked in Saturday's game simulation, he quickly answered with a wonderful response.

"I've got money on both sides," he said to roars of laughter.

While the Jets will move in September to their new state-of-the-art Atlantic Health Training Facility in Florham Park, N.J., Johnson said Saturday that the Jets will return annually to Long Island.

"We feel very strongly that our DNA and where we came from is Long Island," he said. "These are among our most passionate fans, if not our most passionate fans. We are going to come to Long Island to play a practice game, so that the people and the young people in particular will have the chance to see the Jets up close."

This training camp marks the 40th consecutive summer the Jets have called Long Island home and they don't intend to turn their backs on a cross-generational bond they've developed with Long Islanders.

Johnson also announced Saturday the target date for his franchise's relocation. The Jets plan to be in Florham Park five days before their season opener against the Dolphins.

"We're going to be ready to move in on that Tuesday, the 2nd of September," he said. "We're playing Miami the following Sunday, so this is very, very critical for us to get this right. It's not going to be perfect, but as long as we can get the computers in, the electronics working and the video stuff up working, we're good to go."

The Jets are excited for their move because they'll have more fields, an enormous fieldhouse and modern weightroom, training and video facilities. The team will also be a lot closer to the New Jets Stadium, which will be completed in 2010, and within 20 miles of Newark Liberty Airport.

"We're happy to be in New Jersey because I think Florham Park gives us an amazing competitive advantage compared to where we are now," Johnson said. "As you come to see this facility and know it, you'll realize all the advantages."

To help finance the New Jets Stadium and in a move that symbolizes the modern era, the Jets will have personal seat licenses.

"We understand the feelings of the fans," Mr. J. said. "I think we will understand a lot better next week when we see actually the surveys come back."

The Jets have put a lot of research into their PSL decision and they plan on being receptive to their fanbase.

"We are going to look at the fans' response to the questionnaires we sent out and we're going to try to incorporate as many of those ideas into the way we package this PSL program to try to recognize that and try to be as fan-friendly as we can, recognizing the nature of our fans and how long they've been fans and where they've been," Johnson said.

After a flurry of moves in free agency, Johnson feels good about his team and the direction they're headed under the guidance of general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini. The chairman wants to win now and long-term, and he feels he has the right men to lead.

"Based on what we look like on paper, I'm very confident. I'm also very confident of Eric and Mike and the staffs they've put together, that they're building a team for now and continuing to look down the road," he said.

While there has been plenty of speculation about the Jets' interest in Brett Favre, Johnson said he leaves football decisions to Tannenbaum. He also expressed his faith in both Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington.

"I'm so happy to have them on the team," he said. "I think they're capable of taking us where we have to go."

Pleased with the direction of the Jets' organization, Mr. Johnson departed after a few warm handshakes. He was anxious to see his club compete in its annual game-simulation Green & White Practice, which will remain an island trademark for the foreseeable future.

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