You will rarely, if ever, hear a team owner or general manager say that a coach was fired because of the team’s fans. But New York Jets owner Woodie Johnson hinted as much in comments following the firing of head coach Eric Mangini on Monday.
“One of the things importantly we talk about is the performance of the coaches, the performance of the team, and how we’re doing with our fans,” Johnson said at a press conference.
Fans, of course, were less than thrilled at the way the team finished the season, losing four of their last five games, including three to non-playoff teams. But the NFL is littered with coaches who hang on to their jobs despite desperate pleas from fans.
Mangini did finish with a 24-24 record in three seasons as head coach, but finished at 10-6 this year and in 2006. Normally, that kind of performance doesn’t get you fired. But it’s not every year that you build a new $1.6 billion stadium and ask fans to shell out thousands of dollars for personal seat licenses and season tickets during a major recession. The collapse of the Jets down the stretch was horrible timing for the team, and officials know they must do everything in their power to avoid alienating fans.