What had been in the works for months was finally made official Thursday, when Jets owner Woody Johnson was confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. His brother, Christopher Johnson, will take over daily operations of the team.
News emerged in January that Johnson, a major Republican fundraiser and the national finance chairman for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, was President Trump’s pick for the role, but he wasn’t formally nominated until June. Johnson is set to live in the U.K. while serving a three-year appointment, after a day when the Senate approved dozens of nominees ahead of an August recess.
During a July hearing on Johnson’s nomination, Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) joked, “Because of my lifelong being a fan of the Miami Dolphins, support for your nomination due to your relationship with the New York Jets is painful and difficult, but I’m willing do it for the good of the country.” As Johnson grinned, Rubio added that “the country would be well served if a certain Thomas Brady, of Massachusetts, were nominated ambassador of Brazil.”
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) July 21, 2017
Johnson, 70, whose great-grandfather co-founded the medical and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, bought the Jets in 2000 for $635 million. New York made the playoffs in six of his first 11 seasons of ownership, but it hasn’t been to the postseason since 2010 and is widely projected to be among the worst teams in the NFL this year.
“The New York Jets have been an integral part of our family since 2000, but this is a unique opportunity for Woody. His patriotism and commitment to our country have always been a passion of his,” Christopher Johnson said in a June statement.
“Over the years, we have learned that ownership of the New York Jets is a special responsibility. Personally, if Woody is nominated and confirmed, I would be honored to oversee the organization, continuing to build a team on and off the field that our fans are proud of and deserve.”
Following Bush’s withdrawal from the presidential race, Johnson became a Trump fundraiser and donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee. Johnson may be tasked with helping to smooth relations with Sadiq Khan, the London mayor who was castigated by Trump in the wake of June’s terrorist attack on London Bridge.