Parting is such sweet sorrow, not just in Shakespeare but in football. But today’s going-away celebration was necessary for JoJo Wooden to take the next step in his desired career path.
“I was not looking forward to it at all,” Wooden, the Jets’ assistant director of player personnel, said of the small party thrown by the team’s football and business sides at the Atlantic Health Training Center as congratulations for JoJo moving 3,000 miles away to become the Chargers’ director of player personnel.
“Leaving is really, really hard, you know?” he said, still feeling the emotion of the moment. “It’s about the people.”
Wooden knew a lot of folks and wore lots of hats during his 16 seasons in the Jets’ front office. He began on the pro personnel side as an assistant, a pro scout, a senior pro scout for the AFC, assistant director of pro scouting and then director of pro scouting before getting his most recent title and adding college duties to his résumé in 2006.
“I’ve had the chance to be involved in both, and maybe the last three years or so it’s been a lot more college than pro, but I still had my hand in both,” he said this afternoon in his now in-transition office. “This is an opportunity to become the director of player personnel, overseeing both the college and pro departments, so that’s going to be exciting.
“It’s a great step. My ultimate goal, I want to be a general manager, and I think this was the next logical move for me.”
San Diego and new GM Tom Telesco were in need of a new director after Jimmy Raye, son of the well-traveled former Jets assistant coach, departed the job to saddle up with the Colts.
The Chargers offered Wooden a great opportunity, and it had to be great for him and his wife, Sarah, and two daughters to undo their ties with the Northeast. He was born and raised in Connecticut and was a two-year starter at OLB for Syracuse University.
“I’m excited, the family’s excited. They’re on board, which is big,” JoJo said. “It’s a new chapter in our life and we’re looking forward to it.”
But in keeping with his status as a Jets employee for one more day, he used the first person plural to talk about the state of the Green & White. Asked about his highlights during his Jets tenure, he offered a nod toward the Jets’ AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and ’10.
“Those are the biggest things, just the wins. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis … it’s hard just to get yourself in that position as an organization, and to be fortunate enough to do it two years in a row was good.”
And the team he’s leaving behind?
“I love the direction the team’s heading in now with John [Idzik] and Coach Ryan,” he said. “I feel very good about the draft, the guys we acquired. You like the direction this place is heading … and so now you’re sad that you’re jumping off ship.”
But there are plenty of tall ships in San Diego, plus the start of a new program under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. It’s tough to see Wooden head west, but it’s great to see this young man and great guy get to take that next career step. Here’s a proverbial NFL toast, JoJo: Best of luck in all you do against 30 of the NFL’s 31 other teams.
No. 1, Part II
We asked several questions Tuesday, after uniform No. 1 became free with the waiving of WR Thomas Mayo, about that non-crooked number in Jets uni history. Here are the answers:
■ Who was the last Jets player to wear No. 1 during training camp? Last year WR Raymond Webber was “the one.” The year before, P Chris Bryan wore it. Neither made it to the regular season wearing the number.
■ Who was the last Jet to wear No. 1 in a regular-season game? That was K Mike Nugent’s number from the time he was drafted in 2005 through his free agency departure following the ’08 season.
■ Who was the last non-kicker to wear No. 1 in a RS game? The only non-kicker to wear the Big Green One was RB Mike Adamle, who played for the Jets in 1973-74.
As for who if anyone will inherit the one this season, we don’t have any rookie uniform number information yet. But we will post the winning numbers as soon as we are cleared to do so this week.
Tags: Chris Bryan, director of player personnel, John Idzik, JoJo Wooden, Mike Adamle, Mike Nugent, Raymond Webber, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Thomas Mayo
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