It Isn't Easy Being (Gang) Green, Especially When Jets Owner, Star Player Support Climate Change Denier Donald Trump


Cue Howard Cosell’s staccato, nasal voice: Miami. January 12. 1969. Super. Bowl III. Joe Willie Namath guarantees victory for the New York Jets over the big, bad Baltimore Colts, favored by 18 points. And the Jets make good. In one of the greatest upsets in sports history it’s Jets 16 Colts 7.  Aside from that one, glorious day in the South Florida sun, it has not been easy to be a fan of Gang Green, aka the New York Jets. As long-time readers of GreenSportsBlog should know, I have been one since the Namath Era. It has mainly been heartbreak (too many gut wrenching losses to recount) or utter embarrassment (the Tim Tebow error, er, era?). Despite the multi-generational dry spell, we Jets fans, like fans of other long-time losing teams, stick with them, good or (mostly) bad. Fans simply don’t divorce their teams, period, no matter how bad they get. 

But what if one of the team’s star players, along with its owner, voiced support for presumptive Republican presidential nominee and climate change denier Donald Trump? What should a Jets fan who has devoted much of his professional life to the climate change fight do?? 

For a fan of the New York Jets, it’s been a typical offseason.
In truth, the offseason started before it should have, because the Jets lost their last regular season game of the 2015 season, 22-17 at the Buffalo Bills, thus denying Gang Groan, er, I mean, Gang Green, a certain wild card playoff bid. Oh well. These things happen. There’s always next year.
Free agency in March resulted in the loss of some key players (watching nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison go to MetLife Stadium co-tenant New York Giants was a real bummer) as well as the addition of some new ones (does Matt Forte still have “it”? We shall see). The draft at the end of April brought a gaggle of young talent, mainly on defense. And the quarterback position is still one gigantic, green question mark: 2015 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick is still unsigned, 2014 starter Geno Smith is no one’s idea of the future of the franchise, 2015 draftee Bryce Petty evidently still has to learn the pro-style offense and 2016 2nd round draft pick Christian Hackenberg (Penn State) is a rookie.
Typical Jets. “Meh” offseason, mixed outlook for the upcoming season.
Which means, of course, we Jets fans are psyched for 2016! Bring it on!
But for this fan, the outlook is more muddled than that.
“Why?,” you, dear reader, ask.
Because, as you may have heard, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party for 2016 is Mr. Donald J. Trump.
And Donald J. Trump is a climate change denier—he in fact called climate change a Chinese plot to make “US manufacturing non-competitive.” His energy advisor, US Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), is a noted climate change skeptic.
“But,” you continue, “what does that have to do with your relationship with the Jets?”
Well, Nick Mangold, the Jets’ center for the last 10 seasons, one of my favorite players on the team, and one of the greatest players in its history, publicly endorsed Trump, who also called climate change “a hoax”.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump being endorsed by New York Jets center Nick Mangold in Dayton, OH in March (Photo credit: New York Daily News)

And owner Woody Johnson has apparently overcome his initial doubts about Trump (Woody is a big ally of Trump rival “Mr. Low Energy,” Jeb Bush, so I guess it was hard to go over to The Donald–but not that hard) to sign on as a mega fund-raiser for the man who also called climate change a “con job”.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and Donald Trump were not likely discussing climate change when this photo was taken. Johnson, who initially supported former Florida governor Jeb Bush for President is now said to be raising money for climate change denying GOP presidential nominee. (Photo credit: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)

“Wait a second,” you interrupt, “Mangold is a well-known conservative. He endorsed Mitt Romney, climate change skeptic-minimizer, in 2012. And Woody was a major fund-raiser for both John McCain, who was for climate change action, via Cap & Trade, before he saw that that position was toxic within GOP circles and backpedaled faster than Darrelle Revis, and the aforementioned Mitt Romney. So why does Mangold’s/Johnson’s support of Trump cause you agita when their backing of earlier GOP nominees who were also weak on climate change did nothing to diminish your ardor for Gang Green?”
That is a very good question, I must tell you. I have two answers:

  1. Under President Obama—who defeated climate change laggards McCain and Romney—the United States has made huge strides in the climate change fight, from significant increases in fuel economy standards, to the Clean Power Plan, to strong commitments on renewable energy and energy efficiency, to a climate change/clean energy cooperation deal with China, to leading the way on the 2015 Paris/COP 21 global climate change deal. But, as impressive as these steps are, they are not nearly enough. We can’t afford to go backwards. And a President Trump, with an energy director who is a climate change skeptic, and a GOP House and Senate (if Trump wins, my bet is Congress stays in Republican hands), would move us backwards on climate change. That would be disastrous and, to me, is unacceptable.
  2. I’ll quote the Huffington Post for #2—this is the coda HuffPo adds at the end of every story that has anything to do with Mr. Trump: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

“OK,” you say, “So what are you gonna do, divorce the Jets? Over Mangold and Woody Johnson supporting Donald Trump? Despite #s 1 and 2, that makes no sense. As Jerry Seinfeld rightly points out, players and owners come and go. You root for the uniform. You root for clothes!! 
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we-L7w1K5Zo&w=420&h=315]

Jerry Seinfeld: “You’re rooting for the clothes”

“Speaking of laundry, I know you have a Jets jersey. I know that you even wash it once in awhile! You are not trading it in for a Philadelphia Eagles jersey, even though their laundry is green, their stadium has 11,000 solar panels on its east face, and its owner has endorsed Hillary Clinton. You’re just are not!”
“Are you?”
Hmmm. The Eagles. They are a green leader. They’re a rival of the Giants, which is a good thing. They always beat the Jets—that’s right the Jets have never beaten the Eagles in ten tries. I could take Amtrak to the Philly subway…
Nah! You’re right!I have the Jets uniform–Jonathan Vilma, #51! I’m not divorcing the Jets. Nope. First of all, the Jets, despite Mangold’s/Johnson’s Trumpian folly, are taking some smart green steps. MetLife Stadium has solar panels on its roof. The club has partnered with BASF, one of the corporations at the forefront of green-sports sponsorship, on Team Chemistry, a program in which the company invites Jets fans to a tailgate tent outside MetLife Stadium where they can learn how chemistry enables many aspects of the game day experience to be more sustainable (concrete surfaces that are more water and energy efficient, compostable plastics, etc.).
And second, well, there’s just no way I can walk out on Gang Green. It’s in my DNA. That’s it.
But, here’s what I’m gonna do in light of the Trumpism that is pervading at least part of my team: I am going write to both Mangold and Johnson. I will let them know about Trump’s climate change denial, how it is antithetical to what the Jets are about, green-wise, and how dangerous it is in the much bigger picture^. I will ask if I could come out to their training facility at Florham Park, NJ to give a presentation on climate change to the team and staff. Assuming they say yes and are convinced of climate change’s reality and seriousness, I would then ask if they would reconsider their support for Mr. Trump. Assuming they won’t reconsider, I would then ask Mr. Johnson, who definitely now has the ear of the GOP nominee, if he would schedule a meeting for me with Trump so I could sell him on climate change. And then I would meet Mr. Trump. No problem. I will keep GreenSportsBlog readers in the loop every step of the way.
Of course, if I get no response from Mangold and Johnson, then maybe I will go shopping for that Eagles jersey.

^ Yes, there is a “bigger picture” than football. Seriously. There is.
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  1. […] NFL owners will support Donald Trump (unfortunately Woody Johnson, owner of my New York Jets, is fund-raising for the presumptive GOP nominee), a hard core climate change denier, in 2016. What […]

  2. […] last month’s It Isn’t Easy Being (Gang) Green, Especially When Jets Owner, Star Player Support Climate Change D…, I laid bare my soul by sharing the moral conundrum I’m sure most of my fellow Jets fans […]

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