Jets Owner Lambastes NFL Network Over ‘Irresponsible Report’

It’s not often that an NFL team owner would lash out at a league-owned property, but that’s what New York Jets owner Woody Johnson did on Thursday. The Johnson family scion issued a fiery response over a report in an NFL Network podcast that claimed he got into a heated argument in public with head coach Robert Saleh at the league meetings in Orlando earlier in the week.

“All this nonsense about a heated argument between Coach Saleh and me at the League Meeting is absolutely false,” Johnson, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.K., posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It is yet another irresponsible report from NFL Network. Please disregard.”

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The report came from Around the NFL, an NFL Network podcast hosted by Colleen Wolfe, who said an unnamed source relayed to her that the two men had a “very heated conversation” that turned awkward. While this certainly makes Jets fans want to reach for some Lexapro, there’s not much context in the actual podcast discussion about this alleged shouting match.

Wolfe herself kept the flame burning. “It could have been about anything,” she said on the podcast. “Maybe they were disagreeing on how they liked their steaks cooked. Doubt that, though!”

However, the trio of Wolfe, Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler tiptoed around different synonyms for “argument” and largely joked about what the men could have had this “heated conversation” about. At the end, however, Hanzus brought up one plausible on-field topic—embattled quarterback Zach Wilson’s status with the team.

Johnson’s gripe stands out not only because of the rarity of a media owner slamming his or her own product, but because NFL Media has faced recent criticism on a couple of fronts.

The league is also consistently hounded by questions about whether big media companies that rely heavily on their NFL relationships can simultaneously cover the league in a fair and balanced way. Earlier this year, the league was reportedly in talks about taking an equity stake in ESPN, renewing concerns about the network’s and league’s already close relationship. ESPN once canceled a scripted show, Playmakers, to appease a league office unhappy about the negative portrayal of the sport and its players. (It’s worth mentioning that NFL Media explored selling a minority stake back in 2021.)

The network has also been involved in a controversy over its employment practices, when it declined to renew contributor Jim Trotter’s contract after he publicly challenged the commissioner on the league’s diversity efforts in 2023. Trotter joined The Athletic as a columnist, then filed a lawsuit against the NFL in September, alleging he was punished for speaking up about racial discrimination in the league.

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