This is a tough day for us who work at the Atlantic Health Training Center. It’s another one of those days that comes around every so often before or after New Year’s Day on which the Jets begin to tear down and build back up again.
I’d been a part of these periods on the outside as a beatwriter in 1995 (Pete Carroll out), ’97 (Rich Kotite out), ’01 (Bill Parcells regime comes to an end) and ’06 — Herm Edwards to KC, Terry Bradway back to scouting, Mike Tannenbaum ascending to the GM’s office.
And today Mike T is cleaning out that office after owner Woody Johnson said he won’t be back for the ’13 season.
Here is Tannenbaum’s statement to the media, issued a short while ago this afternoon:
I want to thank Woody and his entire family for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime — serving as the General Manager of the New York Jets for seven years.
I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of rebuilding a winning tradition for Jets fans over the past 15 years. My days with Coach Parcells through my years as General Manager of the team that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games have been the fulfillment of a dream I have had since I was a little kid and I’ll always be grateful to Woody, the two head coaches, Rex and Eric, as well as all of the players, staff and the entire organization for this opportunity.
While of course it is disappointing to not achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship, I am incredibly proud of our overall winning record and success. I feel very fortunate to have been the general manager who drafted cornerstone players during a period that yielded four playoff victories and 22 Pro Bowl appearances.
I appreciate that it is rare for someone to stay with one organization with such a wide range of responsibilities for so many years. My time with the Jets will always be special to me and my family and it has prepared me well for whatever comes next.
There are champions on this team that haven’t been crowned yet. I am confident that the base we’ve established will allow the New York Jets to continue a winning tradition for years to come and I wish everyone in the organization the best of luck.
As D’Brickashaw Ferguson said today in the locker room, “What happens now? I’ve only been here under one GM.” I could say the same: I’ve only been a Jets employee under one GM, who had a hand in welcoming me to the organization back in March 2007. But I know what I’ll do: More of what I’ve been doing the past six seasons, which is chronicling the people in the pads and the people upstairs who keep trying to rally all the champions on each team to bring home another championship trophy.
There were reasons for Johnson to make a forceful move concerning his GM’s office with an eye on the immediate future. In seeing certain developments over the past year or two, the owner’s in line with the many we’ve heard from over that span. Fans, beat reporters and columnists have all formed and expressed strong opinions about Tannenbaum’s seven-year tenure, and I won’t add to them now. But I do feel Mike should leave with a few positive words about his years on the hot seat.
For a while it looked like he might be the new model for NFL general managers of the new millennium. His creative salary cap management was often stunning, as were some of his draft-day trades. As assistant GM, he signed and brought in “the Four Aces” on time to 2000 training camp. His first two drafts as GM in ’06-07, the Jets picked Pro Bowlers Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis and a PB-caliber LB in David Harris. At the start of the ’11 camp, he was able to keep Harris in the fold as the last of the re-signed “Core Four.”
There were some trades and signings and non-signings that I as a fan of the team wished Mike T didn’t make, but that’s been the great thing about working for T and Woody Johnson, where a diversity of opinions was welcomed, from inside and especially from outside.
On a personal note, that was the best part of coming to work for the Jets. Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini had to sign off on the decision by then-EVP Matt Higgins and then-SVP Bob Parente to recommend bringing me, a former beatwriter and critic of the team, on board in ’07. Maybe T swallowed hard once or twice, but he welcomed me to the team from the start and never once suggested we take a particular point of view on newyorkjets.com. He accepted the consequences of making the Jets one of the most open teams in pro sports.
Revis was asked in today’s “baggie day” locker room session about Tannenbaum’s dismissal. At first he sounded hardened to the situation, but he quickly segued to the humanity of a departing leader.
“Everybody gets evaluated. In this business we get evaluated every week. It’s just the business side of it,” Revis began. “He did great things here for the last couple of years. It is really sad. You do not want to see anyone get fired or any players getting released in this manner but it happened. He had a great speech that he wrote in the team meeting. Guys clapped for him afterwards and felt sorry for him.”
Mike also crafted the statement above, which included unconditional thanks to the man who decided to end his tenure. And around the time media members were reading that first graph, Tannenbaum went from his second-floor office to the first-floor media room not to do a formal interview with the beats — that would have to wait for another day — but to thank the reporters for their coverage of him and his team ever since he arrived as Parcells’ “cap guy” back in ’97.
Does all that make Mike Tannenbaum a great GM who was done wrong today? No. As Laveranues Coles, T’s third-round pick in that famed 2000 draft made popular around Jets locker rooms, “It is what it is.” Tannenbaum is what he is, a football administrator who made some great moves and some moves that didn’t work out. He was dismissed on “Black Monday” but he’ll move forward, find a new job and start a new legacy. And we wish him the best.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Laveranues Coles, Mike Tannenbaum, Woody Johnson
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