Well folks, now do you see why Leon Hess once pulled the Jets out of New York and headed for New Jersey, and why some years earlier Wellington Mara and his Giants did likewise?
These two men, self made men of big ideas, learned a long time ago what Woody Johnson no doubt has learned the hard way … that NYC, once the model for progress, grand and spectacular projects, and accomplishing big things, is now held hostage by a band of spineless politicians, special interest groups, their media puppets, and a slew of lobbyists and lawyers as far as the eye can see. Most of whom love nothing more than to have their fanny’s publicly kissed (and their palms privately, or not so privately, greased) morning, noon and night.
And in the end what do you get for your trouble. What is your reward for fawning all over these gutless vipers, and all in an attempt to form a lucrative partnership with the City of New York, put thousands of New Yorkers to work (both during and after the project has been completed), build something that can draw a profit (as if that has become a sin?) for both yourself and the City of New York, and maybe, just maybe, build something the people of this city can be proud to call their own?
You get a swift kick in the chops, enough wasted money to feed a small country, and your face splashed all over the front and back pages of the NY tabloids, with captions that in-effect label you a loser.
And that’s about it … not even a set of steak knives and a hearty “thank you” for playing “I was sucker enough to believe New York was still a town that was interested in big ideas and getting things done.”
But this is what NYC has become. A town without an NFL franchise (which in and of itself is an absolute disgrace), and not the first damn clue on how to go about getting back one of the two they lost in the first place. And make no mistake about it, teams they initially lost as a result of the same “Small-Time Charlie” attitude that holds this city hostage till this day … or should I say, “Small-Time Shelly Silver” and his partner in tom-foolery, “Clueless Joe Bruno” … two bovine Jackasses if ever I have seen a spineless jellyfish impersonating a Jackass.
Come to think of it, if Hollywood ever decides to remake the biblical classic, Samson and Delilah, we now have two ideal candidates to play the role of the weapon used by Samson to whup an entire Roman legion. If you have seen the film there is even a classic scene which follows the beat-down, and one that is strangely reminiscent of this entire stadium defeat, right down to the eventual weapon that was used to defeat the project.
The commander of that particular legion returns to Rome and must explain to Cesar how ONE MAN was able to defeat his entire army. He proceeds to explain that their foe had used a weapon.
Cesar inquires incredulously, and exactly what weapon was so powerful that it could defeat an entire legion of Roman soldiers?
The commander sheepishly responds … The jawbone of a jackass.
Cesar, who at this point is entirely stunned that this man would actually have the audacity to admit it, wearing both a puzzled and thoroughly disgusted look on his face, can think of only one adequate response … Are you serious? Do you seriously mean to tell me that an entire army of Rome was defeated by the JAWBONE OF AN ASS?!?!
Well that pretty much captures my reaction, and no doubt Mayor Bloomberg’s, when at the final hour the Westside Stadium Project was defeated by a Jackass. Actually it was two Jackasses in this case, but who’s counting.
But once again, such is the sad and sorry state of politics in NYC. This once great city that set an example for the world, constructing mighty bridges, tunnels, subways, skyscrapers, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and so much more. This once wonderful city that placed the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor as a shinning example to the world, of what man can truly accomplish with a little imagination and the will to see it through, inviting in all those who dare to dream, as if to say upon their arrival that this is where dreams come true … and yet this city has become a shell of its former self, a place where small men with small minds are guarding the gates, ever present and ever at the ready, just waiting to crush big ideas or anything that even resembles progress. And sadly, they are winning.
Yes my friends, the enemies of progress are winning, in-spite of the courageous efforts of Mayor Bloomberg, who was willing to risk his own office in the name of accomplishing something grand. In-spite of Woody Johnson, who desperately tried to give New York back its football team and house them in a spectacular new stadium on the Westside of Manhattan, using 1.6 billion dollars of his own money to do so, and in-spite of those few courageous voices in the press who tried to fight the tied of their peers on the news pages and encourage New Yorkers to think big and think bold, using their editorial pages as a megaphone for progress, reminding New Yorkers of what we once were, what made us great, and how we can be great again if we can only dare to dream, think big, and act on those dreams without fear.
You see my friends, men like Woody Johnson, Mike Bloomberg, Wellington Mara, and Leon Hess before them; they know how to think big. They know how to dream big, but not make dreams their aim. They know how to dream and act on those dreams, without fear. These are not your common hack politicians (that is not where Bloomberg made his wealth) or small-minded journalists who can see no further than tomorrow’s column and are always itching for a fight. These are men of vision, risk takers, and those who can turn a dollar into a million dollars because they dare to act on big ideas, forever finding themselves in contention with the small-minded individuals who are obsessed with the small things but live in fear of the big things.
What happened here; what really happened here, is that men of vision tried to accomplish something big for the City of New York, and yes, for themselves as well (which is no crime, and frankly I am growing weary of those who portray it as such, as if the two are mutually exclusive, which they are not, but I digress).
Anyhow, men of vision set out to accomplish something big for this city, and they tried to make us all a part of it. That’s what this was ultimately all about, but alas the Sheldon Silver’s and Joe Bruno’s of the world would not allow it. They couldn’t allow it, perhaps partly because they were aligned with Cablevision and other special interest groups who were committed to defeating the project, but ultimately because they are small men with small minds, entirely incapable of thinking big, forever in fear of big ideas, and always protecting their own hides. So in the end it was much easier for these men to kill the idea than to take any sort of risk whatsoever, even on something spectacular and grand, which once upon a time was NYC’s calling card.
A wise man once said that in a democracy (where folks elect their own leaders) the people will ultimately get the type of government they deserve (for better or worse), because ultimately our leaders are merely a reflection of ourselves.
For most of my life I have believed that to be true and I still do to some extent, but how many New Yorkers who are reading this column have ever cast a vote for Silver or Bruno?
Frankly it is amazing to me that these two virtual nobodies were able to kill an idea of this magnitude, but such is the structure of NYC politics nowadays, that we have actually placed that type of hammer in the hands of such hollow men with such miniscule constituencies.
And In the end, because the structure of our politics in NYC has placed so much power in the hands of small-minded men from small districts, and whom most New Yorkers never heard of (much less voted for) until last week, the Westside Stadium Project (and I would argue the entire City of New York) was defeated by the Jawbone of an ass.
So what now … what is Woody Johnson’s next move?
Well if it were me I would take Wellington Mara up on his offer, form a partnership with the Giants on the new stadium project in New Jersey, and run from this cesspool of corruption as fast as my feet would take me.
Face it Mr. Johnson, New York is simply not the town it once was. We still have the bark but we have lost our bite, and there are those who have no desire re-enact the glory days.
Most New Yorkers, myself included, understand that you tried your best, tried to bring our team back to New York, but alas the hyenas wouldn’t hear of it. You have done more than enough, so it is not necessary to give these fools any more of your money or another moment of satisfaction at your expense. The Joke is on them, and you know that is true. Now let them wallow in mediocrity with their friends at cablevision while you take the Jets back to NJ where we are apparently wanted.
And while they’re at it, I would hope that the Jets and Giants will finally consider changing their identification as well. This town has proven itself unworthy of having any identification with the true national pastime, the National Football League, so it deserves to be treated like any number of small towns across America that are not represented in the NFL. I for one would not hold it against the NY Jets if they suddenly came too be known as the NJ Jets, and in truth I would actually applaud Mr. Johnson for returning fire on this city in such a deserving manner, and I say that as a life-long New Yorker, born and raised, but one who is ashamed of what this town has become and that we have allowed ourselves to be held hostage by a couple of Small-Time Charlie’s like Silver and Bruno.
Whatever Mr. Johnson decides, I am sure it will be spectacular. It’s the type of man that he is, a man of vision, a man of big ideas, and a man of action. It’s a shame he had to wallow in the mud with these pigs before he came to learn what Mr. Hess and Mr. Mara knew a long time ago. I’m sure he must feel like he needs a good bath following this experience, but he’ll bounce back and accomplish something grand because that’s what men of his ilk do.
It’s the Sheldon Silvers and Joe Brunos of the world who never accomplish anything worth remembering. Fifty years from now no-one outside of their own families will even remember they existed, just as it should be, but a man like Woody Johnson will leave a legacy and he will build something spectacular that we can all enjoy, even long after he is gone, which I pray is not for a long, long time. What this world needs most are more men of vision, not less. It seems men of vision are in short supply nowadays, especially around this neck of the woods, but we sure are overstocked with those hollow men … and we just discovered two more.