Johnson wins Jets toss; Cablevision bid nixed

New York football franchise bought for $635 mil

NEW YORK — While they may still be without a coach, the New York Jets are no longer without an owner: Robert Wood Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical empire, has purchased Gotham’s AFC franchise for $635 million — beating out a similar bid by Charles Dolan, chairman of Cablevision Systems.

The sale is pending final approval from 24 of the NFL’s 31 owners. The next owners meeting is skedded for Jan. 18 and the group will likely rubber stamp the deal since owners are said to favor Johnson over Dolan due to the latter’s corporate ownership of sports teams and related assets. That’s despite the fact that Dolan’s bid was from his personal account, not from the coffers of Cablevision, which owns the New York Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden.

In a statement, Dolan said he had hoped to “field the team that could compete for a championship and make Jets’ fans proud. I congratulate Woody Johnson and his wife, Sale, whom I know share that goal.”

Johnson was officially selected by the estate of oilman Leon Hess, the Jets late owner. The NFL’s finance committee unanimously approved Johnson’s offer, which is the third-highest ever paid for a NFL club following $800 million for the Washington Redskins and $700 million for the Houston’s upcoming expansion team. The D.C. deal included a stadium and this one doesn’t.

Matched bid

The bidding has been tense. Dolan’s final offer late last week exceeded Johnson’s by $25 million. But Dolan was met with resistance from league owners, and when Johnson matched Dolan’s bid earlier this week, it was quickly approved by the Hess estate, which was eager to get the deal over with.

It was Dolan’s third attempt to buy an NFL franchise. Two years ago, he led a unsuccessful campaign to buy the expansion Cleveland Browns. Reportedly, it was current the Browns owner who led the move to block Dolan.

Coaches ankled

Perennial losers, the Jets are still best known for their upset Super Bowl victory 1969. While the franchise had stabilized in the past three years under coach Bill Parcells, things began to fall apart last week when within 24 hours of Parcell’s resignation as head coach, his chosen successor, Bill Belichick resigned as well.

Until Johnson is approved as the new owner, Leon Hess’ son John Hess and Jets prexy Steve Gutman will continue to run the team while Parcells will remain in charge of all football decisions.

Johnson said one of first priorities is to meet with Gutman and Parcells to iron out the coaching situation. He’s also likely to get moving on a new stadium. The Jets play in Giants’ stadium.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Untold Stories Film Program

    Robert De Niro's Company Files $6 Million Suit Against Ex-Employee

    Robert De Niro’s company has filed a $6 million lawsuit against a former employee, accusing her of embezzling money and binge-watching Netflix while on the job. Canal Productions, De Niro’s loan-out company, also accuses Chase Robinson of racking up exorbitant hotel and restaurant charges and using millions of De Niro’s frequent flyer miles for her [...]


    Jay-Z Gets Shade From Kaepernick, Support From Cardi B as NFL Fallout Continues

    UPDATED: If anyone expected the drama surrounding Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL to calm down over the weekend, they were mistaken, as controversy and conversation continued to swirl. The situation grew even more intense late Friday when TMZ reported that Jay is looking to acquire a majority interest in an unspecified NFL team, which would [...]

  • Curiosity Stream Altice

    Altice USA Pacts With John Hendricks' CuriosityStream Service

    Altice USA has set a deal with John Hendricks’ CuriosityStream to expand distribution of the science- and history-focused subscription streaming service. The deal will make CuriosityStream available to all Altice USA’s 4.9 million customers across 21 states, including a big cluster serving New York and Connecticut. Altice also plans to add the CuriosityStream app to [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content