NJ.com- In his first public comments Wednesday, Jets acting owner Christopher Johnson offered a firm and direct response to the idea that the organization is tanking in 2017.
"It couldn't be further from the truth," he said. "I want to win every game. Every player in that locker room wants to win. What you're seeing, I think, are growing pains. These are young guys. There are some older guys on the team. Some of them, they're doing an extraordinary job. But I think you're going to see this team get better and better and better. That's what I'm looking for. And we are definitely not tanking."
I want you to close your eyes and picture an alternate universe in which this patently absurd declaration were true. In that mysterious world - where the New York Jets have made a tried and true organizational effort to compete - exists the only acting owner in sports that is markedly worse at running a successful franchise than Christopher Johnson, and he just so happens to be Christopher Johnson's twilight zone twin.
I know that one of the 32 extremely wealthy men tasked with upholding the competitive spirit of a product that's worth billions upon billions of dollars doesn't stand to benefit from saying that his team is actively compromising it. That said, if the New York Jets truly aren't tanking then plausibly going 0-16 is actually the least of their worries. In essence, the league likes to hear that the Jets are definitely trying their hardest to win. However, that same sentiment might give their most loyal fans a goddamn aneurysm, because it would mean that their owner isn't qualified to staff a McDonald's, never mind an NFL front office.
Really what it comes down to is avoiding the word "tanking" when you are actually tanking. Like, if a journalist even brings it up you need to fake an irregular heart palpitation or something, because trying to change it's definition is a surefire admittance that you're guilty of it.
Though their piss poor quarterback play might suggest otherwise, the Jets aren't voluntarily throwing games away. Every player in their locker room is a professional athlete who understands the fragility of their status as such that isn't going to risk their future employment on the off-chance they get to share said locker room with a hypothetical highly-touted college kid in the future. If that were what "tanking" was then tanking wouldn't exist in professional sports because you don't reach that level of competition without being irrationally competitive.
Tanking doesn't involve asking your players to lose. It's a dedication to employing players that are physically incapable doing literally anything else. If that's not what Christopher Johnson's goal was when he traded/let go of damn near every above average player on the Jets' roster and decided to roll the dice with a quarterback trio of Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, and Bryce Petty then he's somehow far, far dumber than he thinks his audience is.