While Jets coach Rex Ryan is hoping the furor over his foot-fetish video collection will disappear, team owner Woody Johnson said Thursday he isn’t ready to see his controversial head coach go away.
“It is a private matter. My reaction is . . . I don’t really want to talk about that. I’m going to respect Rex and how he wanted to characterize it,” said Johnson, referring to Ryan’s repeated explanation Wednesday that the suddenly viral series of videos featuring wife Michelle’s feet were “a personal matter.”
“It’s a personal matter and that’s the way it is. He’s still the coach of the Jets,” said Johnson, who met with reporters to address the latest stream of inflammatory incidents surrounding his never-dull franchise. “I have a lot of respect for Rex and his family. My respect has not diminished one iota.”
In a season in which his Jets gained infamy through a series of embarrassing incidents — Ryan’s middle finger to mixed martial arts fans; Braylon Edwards’ arrest on DUI charges; Brett Favre’s alleged “sexting” dalliance with Jenn Sterger; Sal Alosi’s sideline trip seen around the NFL — Johnson said he objects to any characterization that his NFL franchise has run amok.
“One thing about the NY Jets that I’m extremely proud of is that we are extremely open," Johnson said. "We’re going to make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But once we’ve made a mistake, I think we’re pretty good at trying to make remedies and trying to cure and trying to correct what we’re doing.”
Johnson, however, dodged specifics regarding the NFL’s ongoing investigation of Favre and his alleged interaction with Sterger, a former Jets sideline reporter.
“We try to get better every year. We’re going to work on things like our culture. We’re going to work on trying to make ourselves an organization that doesn’t have, preferably, any incidents,” Johnson said. “We know we’re going to have some."
But this doesn’t mean Johnson is condoning his team’s myriad missteps.
In response to the Alosi incident in which the Jets assistant used his leg and knee to trip Dolphins punt returner Nolan Carroll on the sideline during a game, Johnson said he has made a series of personal apologies to other NFL teams that were directly affected.
When Jets special-teams coach Mike Westhoff went on a Chicago radio station and accused the New England Patriots of intentionally forming a human wall along the sideline on similar punt plays, Johnson revealed that he called Pats owner Bob Kraft to apologize for that statement.
“I called Bob about any comments that we may have made regarding the (wall) and how he interpreted those comments,’’ Johnson said. “We don’t want to be insulting another team, another team’s coaches, players or anything. That’s not what we’re here to do.’’
Johnson said he also called Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to offer an apology and to check on Carroll, the player who was tripped.
“I apologized for Mr. Ross and asked if his player was OK, and he assured me his player is fine, he accepted the apology and said, ‘No problem,’ " Johnson said. “If it’s not a problem to him, it’s a problem for me.’’
Will Alosi — he is currently suspended without pay through the remainder of the 2010 regular season and playoffs — ultimately be fired by the Jets?
Johnson wouldn’t really say.
“We’re taking a look at it. Sal was suspended for a few weeks and then indefinitely,” Johnson said. “We haven’t made a final determination yet. Indefinitely is a pretty long time.’’