Jets' CEO on winning a Lombardi trophy: 'I'll wear it like a crown'

Jets owner Christopher Johnson is willing to go to any lengths to get the Jets to the top of the NFL. Seth Wenig/AP

Many years ago, the owner of the New York Jets stood in front of microphones and TV cameras and growled, "I'm 80 years old. I want results now." It was Leon Hess in 1995. He was part George Steinbrenner, part George Burns, and his edict was splashed across the back pages of the New York tabloids.

The team's current boss, Christopher Johnson, is only 60, but he certainly is entitled to demand immediate results, especially after spending an unprecedented $122 million in fully guaranteed money in free agency. But, no, Johnson didn't pull a Hess on Sunday night at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. Commenting for the first time on the Jets' spending spree, he didn't set any grandiose expectations -- at least not for public consumption -- but he clearly wants some bang for his buck.

"I sure as hell hope we're a playoff team," Johnson said. "I think that we -- look, I want to win every game. We can't get there fast enough. I've said it before: I'm an impatient man. I want this team to win, and I think we have a really good chance to be a quite good team this year."

As usual, Johnson refused to issue a playoff mandate for his general manager, Mike Maccagnan, or his coach, Adam Gase.

The Jets added to the offense by signing running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Jamison Crowder and trading for guard Kelechi Osemele. In Johnson's view, they've accomplished two goals: Improved Sam Darnold's protection and gave him more targets.

Johnson said he expects the Jets to be better than last season (they were 4-12, mind you). If $122 million can't buy at least four more wins, something is very wrong.

He passed on a chance to revel in the perception that the Jets have a chance to overtake the local market from the New York Giants, who are bleeding talent.

"Honestly, I'm just not worried about that," Johnson said. "I just want to win games. All that can come. Look, if we win a Lombardi trophy, I'll wear it around like a crown until people are sick of me."

Good answer.

Considering the Jets' history -- applause in March, boos in the fall -- it would've been foolish to do any premature gloating, especially since that other team in town has won four Super Bowls since the Jets' only championship a half-century ago. It's not Jets versus Giants; it should be Jets versus Jets.

"Everybody on this team -- every player, the coaches, Adam, Mike, me, -- we have to prove ourselves here," Johnson said. "I think we’re going to be a better team. I know we're a better team, and we haven't even gotten to the draft."

Maccagnan, entering his fifth season on the job, has had ample time to prove himself. Some owners would've tossed out the GM after four straight non-playoff seasons, but Johnson professed his faith in Maccagnan, who gave a $43 million guarantee to middle linebacker C.J. Mosley -- the biggest guarantee in franchise history.

"I work well with Mike. I think he's terrific at his job," Johnson said. "He has a plan that I believe in. It's really key that he's working well with Adam. That relationship is really important to me. I feel good about Mike being in the building."

Johnson mentioned the Maccagnan-Gase relationship three times during his 20-minute sit-down with reporters, each time unsolicited. Clearly, he wanted to send a message that the organization, which showed signs of splintering under the Maccagnan-Todd Bowles regime, is one big, happy family.

Folks around the league are skeptical, especially with fiery defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on board. An opposing personnel director told me the other day, "You're going to have plenty of fireworks with Williams and Gase." Fair or not, the perception is that management was the driving force behind the Williams hire, not Gase. That could be a slippery slope.

"I certainly haven't seen anything adversarial at this point, but we'll see what happens when we get to practice," Johnson said. "It should be fun. It might be spicy."