Magic Johnson’s tell-all television interview Monday was more like an episode from a “Housewives” or “Basketball Wives” reality show than what a sports fan would expect from their professional sports team. The “he said-she said” infighting not only brings attention to the dysfunction within the Los Angeles Lakers, but also the dysfunction that has now come to the surface here with the
New York Jets.
It was shocking, surprising to the football community and the sports world to receive the announcement of the Jets firing their general manager Mike Maccagnan last week Wednesday, May 15, shortly after press time. Vice president of player personnel, Brian Heimerdinger was also released.
Rumors of Maccagnan being let go initially surfaced several weeks ago during Draft Week but were immediately denied by Maccagnan, their new head coach Adam Gase and CEO/owner Chris Johnson.
The Jets had fired head coach Todd Bowles and members of his staff at the end of the 2018 after a 4-and-12 season, 5-and-11 the season before, but Maccagnan, whose contract had been extended to 2020, was retained. Gase was hired to replace Bowles two weeks after Gase had been fired from the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching position. He now replaces Maccagnan until another GM is chosen, if that happens.
Rumors and innuendo surfaced regarding differences between Maccagnan and Gase. Both men denied any rifts between the two.
Since signing with the Jets, Gase had never expressed an interest in any of their general manager duties. During his three-years with the Dolphins, Gase had control over the roster, but was content to take a less hands-on approach to building this new Jets team.
Maccagnan was hired by the Jets in January 2015 to manage this team. He was integral in the hiring of Gase, leading the search for their new head coach alongside Johnson, the owner. Maccagnan is also responsible for last year’s first round draft selection of quarterback Sam Darnold, considered their future franchise player, and defensive end Quinnen Williams, selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Free agent Le’Veon Bell was acquired in March.
In a statement released last Wednesday, Johnson wrote, “This morning, I informed Mike that he was being relieved of his duties as general manager of the team effective immediately.
Mike helped execute the strategic vision of the organization during the last four seasons and especially the past few months. However, I came to the decision to make a change after much thought and a careful assessment of what would be in the best long-term interests of the New York Jets. I will start a search for our new general manager immediately. In the interim, Coach Gase will be the acting
“I would like to thank Mike for his time and efforts during his tenure, and I only wish the best for him and his wife Betty.”
Johnson explained that he thought that there was synergy between Maccagnan and Gase, but decided to let Maccagnan go after he sat in free-agent and Draft meetings to get a better feel of what Maccagnan’s role was. The meetings supposedly helped Johnson understand that he didn’t approve of what he was doing, and it was not the kind of direction that Johnson wanted from his general manager.
Two questions now linger. Why did it take Johnson so long to question this, and what role did Gase play in Johnson now figuring this out.