"The Tail Wagging The Dog"

While reading through Rich Cimini’s entertaining Sunday musings, he said something that I have suspected for a long-time now but has really come to a head with the Tebow signing, namely that the Jets business side is dictating what the football side does.

As Cimini puts it:  The Jets are getting ripped for considering HBO’s “Hard Knocks” – and deservedly so. How will another appearance on “Hard Knocks” help them overtake the Patriots? That is the only question that matters. Every decision, from acquiring players to selecting the cafeteria menu, should be based on that question. If the Jets agree to it, it’s a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, the business side running the football operation. Obviously, owner Woody Johnson wants the exposure to help sell PSLs. The Jets recently sent an e-mail to potential customers, advertising a “ticket opportunity” and detailing the positives of owning a PSL. The e-mail arrived one day after the Tim Tebow trade. Coincidence? I think not.

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I believe that this has been going on for a number of years, dating back to 2008 when the Jets and ultimately Eric Mangini went all-in on a certain Wrangler-wearing, sexting, quarterback. It should come as no surprise that the Favre trade coincided with the Jets and Giants breaking ground on the soon-to-be Metlife Stadium. 2008, marked what many would call a turning point in philosophy as far as the Jets front office was concerned. The Jets never used to be considered among the “movers and shakers” in free agency, rarely making a big splash. However, in the 2008 off-season the Jets made a flurry of moves, highlighted by the blockbuster trade for Brett Favre.

It would not be outlandish to think that with a new stadium only a few years away from opening, it behooved Woody Johnson to loosen his purse strings in an attempt to sell tickets, specifically the three letter acronym that has come to be a dark cloud hanging over this franchise PSL (Personal Seat Licenses). Arguably one of the most evil financial instruments since the Credit Default Swap, the PSL, the brain-child of Carolina Panthers crotchety owner Jerry Richardson. Essentially franchises started asking season ticket holders to pay for the right to buy their season tickets. To his credit, Woody was smart enough not to require PSL’s    for the entire upper bowl but still attempted to sell these things to the remainder of his loyal customers at exorbitant prices during the worst economic down-turn since the recession.

Johnson was shocked to find that virtually no one was buying his worthless pieces of paper, especially with the advent of the secondary ticket market. Having totally over-shot his market, Johnson and the Jets began rapidly slashing prices and offering all different types of packages in order to make his PSL’s seem more appealing and saw nominal success. Not only did he lose his loyal customers he also infuriated those who were foolish enough to pay full retail for a PSL only to find the same PSL going for almost half.

Woody must have known that the PSL’s would be a difficult proposition for a team that had not been in a Super Bowl since 1969. Knowing this, he began to make flashy moves that may have won the Jets the back pages (Favre, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, Plaxico Burress) and the list goes on, but failed to yield a Super Bowl all while the Giants were busy winning two. Many of these move were designed to begin moving the relatively large amount of inventory of PSL’s and now it’s obvious that they still have a significant amount more to sell and are willing to continue to go great lengths in order to do so. In fact, not only do the Jets still have PSL seats to sell but have begun to lose season ticket holders in the non-PSL seats.

It wouldn’t be an issue if the Jets need to sell PSL’s coincided with their football goals/needs but recently it hasn’t. The most glaring examples of that are the signings of Plaxico Burress and most recently Tim Tebow. Instead of going after a need or a more suitable player for their needs, the Jets opted for the bigger, more polarizing name in hopes that it would help sell season tickets. If this is in fact true as I suspect, this is no way to go about running a franchise, sure you want to sell tickets but to what extent. The best way to put people in the seats is win games, put a winning product and the field and maybe win enough games to host a playoff game, then maybe you won’t have such a hard time selling tickets.