Woody Johnson, Steve Cohen
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

New York Jets chairman Woody Johnson is currently showing Mets majority owner Steve Cohen how it’s done on Twitter.

Robby Sabo

New York Mets majority owner Steve Cohen invented a thing this past fall season. When the filthy-rich hedge-fund man decided to open up the virtual front office to fans, the “Twitter owner” was born.


The intent was obvious from the outset. The engagement effort was clear from the start. Cohen had entered the Twitter Thunderdome by asking Mets fans’ advice on how certain baseball “business” should be conducted.

Solid idea. Right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong … on Twitter … in today’s world … in 2020? (That’s one of those thoughts that forces initial optimism to slowly but eventually flip to horror while the sentence is typed or read out in full.)

From having his political leanings heavily investigated by journalists to the Jared Porter situation, all the way to Dave Portnoy’s presence in Cohen’s stock market world, the new-ownership bliss fans were celebrating suddenly disappeared.

So did Cohen, for about a month.

So did Woody Johnson, for an entirely different reason four years prior.

Bolting from Twitter in late January, Cohen didn’t return to Twitter until this past week. Cohen, the seemingly-hyper “informative frontman,” is just the latest in a long line of professional sports owners looking to extend their own or their team’s stature on social media.

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The jury’s still out on whether or not his new “Twitter owner” strategy will work long-term. (The wise betting man or woman would put a pretty penny against the idea.) What’s tried, tested and beneficial, however, is how the New York Jets chairman is handling his return.

Johnson, the man who served as the United States’ Ambassador to the UK for the last four years, passed the baton to his younger brother, now-Vice Chairman Christopher Johnson, four years ago. Since returning to the states, Woody has rejoined the “informative frontman” ranks while showing Cohen a thing or two on how it should be done.

Seamless transition

Woody’s Twitter return featured a huge thank you to Christopher on Jan. 25.

Johnson’s return coincided with the Robert Saleh hiring, making his Twitter reemergence almost seamless. From there, Woody got to work with his fanbase as fired up as it’s been since Week 16 of the 2015 season.

The savvy businessman also made sure to hit the right nostalgic notes.

But allowing Jets fans more information into their new team’s situation, i.e. Saleh and the coaching staff, is what the fans appreciate most.

Woody is no dummy

Woody Johnson is no dummy. As fashionable as it is to hammer the New York professional sports owner is as silly as it is to label any of these individuals as unintelligent or dull.

Johnson understands how much to extend himself on the platform. (It’s something Cohen is still walking the tightrope over while discovering/investigating.)

Remember, it was just last July when CNN reported that Johnson made “sexist and racist remarks.” The unsubstantiated report surfaced during one of the wildest political/societal times in recent memory. And while time has backed the use of “unsubstantiated,” what’s critical to evaluate is the accused’s response.

Johnson, then still serving as United States’ Ambassador to the UK, swiftly denied the allegations.

“I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times,” Johnson tweeted. “These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”

Combatting such accusations during a time that contrasts the way the political wind is blowing (at a Tornado-strength level) is quite difficult. But from that moment until his reemergence on Twitter as the Jets Chairman, Woody has played it perfectly.

The baggage these owners are forced to deal with on a daily basis is what creates an incredible number of lose-lose situations. And whether or not the “baggage” is true makes little difference. Perception is the game, which means taking engagement to the Twitter level invites unwanted headaches for a football program.

Instead of engaging to a level that promotes more explanation about his “baggage,” Johnson stays away. He’ll post his Jets content and drop a friendly “hello” to a fan or long-time face from time to time.

Part of Cohen’s first Twitter demise dealt with his overextending actions. It didn’t matter if it was a journalist on him about his perceived political leanings or Portnoy’s stock-market noise; the more a man or woman with his level of perceived power digs in, outside of the parameters of a legitimate conversation, the deeper the hole becomes.

It doesn’t matter if he’s right; he’ll ultimately still wind up on the wrong end of the perception battle. Not even when you want to take it to a place of real conversation do net-positive results surface.

And especially not even when others point out the obvious is the coffee fully smelled.

Combatting the mainstream’s current temperature is always critical for these guys, but picking and choosing the right battles is of the utmost importance. If you simply listen to the general wind’s blowing direction, you’d come to the following understanding:

  1. Steve Cohen has saved the Mets, as the Wilpons were a disaster.
  2. Jets fans don’t want to see Woody Johnson return as owner.

But if you dig in a bit, while sorting through the noise, the following could represent what’s happening:

  1. Steve Cohen is no sports owner superhero, and his “look at me” social media ways accomplish very little.
  2. Woody Johnson understands that picking and choosing his battles wisely is more than half the battle and that overextending on social media becomes as counterproductive as signing a high-priced free-agent running back who’s closer to age-30 than 20.

Love him or hate him, believe him or distrust him, it’s all fair game for a man whose powerful standing in our country is evident. But what you can’t do is criticize any step he’s taken since officially rejoining the organization.

In spite of already-firm conventional wisdom and the new-owner hype Mets fans couldn’t resist, Woody Johnson is showing Steve Cohen a thing or two on how to appropriately use Twitter to his organization’s advantage.

It’s all about yielding net-positive results in a media world that’s constantly looking for controversy and the rewarding emotion it creates. Credit Woody Johnson; his Twitter actions since returning allow Joe Douglas to build a program, Robert Saleh to develop young men and the New York Jets to stay far away from the counterproductive news that can only hurt a team’s chances on and off the field.

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jhferris3@gmail.com Dark Demonik Recent comment authors
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Dark Demonik
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Dark Demonik

When Woody Johnson’s JETS win a SB he can show the Mets how its done… Sorry Sabo this is laughable at best

jhferris3@gmail.com
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What a puff piece. Woody’s “good twitter persona” is 100% someone from the Jets PR department/social media intern. They seem to be doing a decent job putting out content people like, which is fine, but unsurprising since its literally THEIR JOB. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Cohen has (a little) help in this area he comes through as 1000% more authentic. Yeah the stock market dust up wasn’t a great look, but do you think most mets fans actually cared? I’m not saying Woody should be like Cohen, but at least Cohen seems to be willing to inject some… Read more »