TOJ Sidelines – A Note On Woody Johnson

Dalbin Osorio with thoughts on the recent news around New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson

Hey Mr. Johnson,

You don’t know who I am: we met 5 years ago at the last Jets game I went to, and you were very kind and even took a picture with a friend of mine and I at a tailgate. I’ve contributed a very miniscule amount to the fortune you’ve amassed while being the owner of my favorite American football team. You’ve overseen some of my favorite sports moments, though, and I generally think you have done a decent job. You, also, said we can never have enough Tebow, so you’ve authored some of my least favorite sports moments too.

I’ve always thought, as an adult, that as an owner you were solid at your job though. I thought some fans gave you a hard time and it did not make much sense to me because you, unlike somebody like James Dolan or George Steinbrenner, did not really meddle in the team like that. You let your football people do their job, and I appreciated you for it. You weren’t the Wilpons, who continue to pretend the Mets didn’t have the money to compete in the biggest market in the country. You paid Revis, and Mangold, and really everybody and you put money behind a new stadium, and you seemed to just want to have the Jets win more than anything. You were maybe a little too loyal to Rex Ryan and a little short with Eric Mangini, but not everybody bats 1.000 in the front office.

In 2016, when this country *elected a bigoted con man, rumors started swirling that you were potentially going to take a position within his administration. Its kind of been the elephant in the room over the last few years that you’ve been gone, and very few people have even mentioned you because your boss has the country burning essentially.

I admittedly had forgotten that you were the US Ambassador to the UK, and really only thought of you in the “when he returns, what happens to the Jets” kind of way. Your Black-Panther-watching brother was now in charge: your brother who offered to pay all fines accrued by the Jets players for kneeling against police brutality and racial injustices. Your brother, who oversaw a re-branding of the Jets, and brought us new uniforms. Your brother, who also didn’t fire Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan together, and who hired Adam Gase, but not everybody bats 1.000 in the front office.

I’m an Afro-Latino man, Mr. Johnson, and I read today that you made some really racist remarks. I’m not going to mince words with you, Sir, and call this racially-coded language or what have you like the media typically does for your boss. You don’t know me, but I don’t do that. You questioned why a community I am a part of, a community that was taken from their countries and enslaved here while this country was built on the backs of them and on stolen lands, would want a separate month to celebrate their history. Given how this country has whitewashed our history, one month should be the minimum we receive considering we spend the other 11 months being lied to about how Columbus discovered America because he landed in the Bahamas. One month should not be such a difficult ask, Mr. Johnson, but it seemed to bother you enough to comment on it.

I’m, also, a father, Mr. Johnson. A black father, as it were, and it is simultaneously the easiest and most challenging title I hold. I love my daughter, she is my north star, and I am very fortunate to be around to see her grow considering how often men that look like me, talk like me, walk like me, and breathe like me are systematically taken off the playing board. Whether it is state-sanctioned murder or mass incarceration, our communities have definitely lost male role models through generations. However, 2.5 million black fathers (out of 4.2 million, a whopping 59.5%) live with their children per a 2019 study.

A majority of us remain with our families, so when you say that is “the real challenge”, what are you referring to? How could you fix your face to critique how long we get to honor our history or to hypothesize what our challenges are if you are operating from faulty information and racist tropes? Is your disdain for black men the reason you allegedly reassigned one of your employees when they spoke highly of President Barack Obama? Save your “I love black people, I’ve paid black players” retort, sir.

Remember I said I’m a Father, Mr. Johnson, and that I’m the father to a babygirl? It is my hope that my daughter is a hard worker and that I’ve modeled good work ethic for her. It is my hope that she outworks everybody around her, whether it’s a he, she, they, or them. However, I would hope that she is both compensated for her hard work and not viewed as a preferable employee because she is “cheaper.” I would, also, hope that her bosses don’t exclude her because of her gender, birth or identified as. This is something you allegedly made clear you believed behind the doors of a men’s only club. You allegedly prefer working with women because they are “cheaper”, Mr. Johnson. Cheap, Mr. Johnson? To describe women in this manner considering we have a very real issue we have in our country with a wage gap for women? You clearly are aware of that, and instead of working to change that you celebrate it. You allegedly celebrate the inequities that women face when it comes to what they can earn instead of working to fix that. Save your “I love women, I pay women” retort, sir.

Save your excuses and denials as well, Mr. Johnson. You do not need to gaslight us. You need to sell the team though, so and Daniel Snyder can spend the time you have left on this Earth analyzing what your real challenges are and whether it was just cheaper to keep your mouth shut.

Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.