FLORHAM PARK, New Jersey - The New York Jets owner said Thursday that Rex Ryan has his full support, a day after the embarrassed coach declined comment about a foot-fetish report posted by the sports website Deadspin.
"I have a lot of respect for Rex and his family," Johnson said. "My respect has not diminished one iota."
Four videos of a woman, who bears a close resemblance to Ryan's wife, Michelle, show her displaying her toes to an off-screen cameraman who sounds a lot like the coach. Ryan said Wednesday it was a "personal matter."
Johnson thinks so, too.
"My reaction is, I don't really want to talk about that," he said. "I'm going to respect Rex and how he wanted to characterize it. It's a personal matter, and that's the way it is."
Johnson said he has spoken with Ryan and offered his support.
"He's still the coach of the New York Jets," the owner said.
According to Deadspin, the woman in the video goes by the handle "ihaveprettyfeet." One video shows the woman sitting in an SUV with her feet hanging out the driver's seat window. She is approached by someone who is not on camera and he tells her that she has "really beautiful feet." They chat about feet for another minute or so.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league, like Ryan and Johnson, considers it a personal matter.
For the time being, it's merely another page in the Jets' wacky, winning season.
The team met with the NFL last week about a play Dec. 12, when assistant coach Sal Alosi tripped a Miami player running along the sideline during a game.
Alosi, the Jets' strength and conditioning coach, was initially suspended by the team without pay for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, and fined an additional $25,000. The team suspended him indefinitely two days later when it learned Alosi was responsible for ordering inactive players to form a sideline wall - a violation of league rules.
Johnson, who spoke to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and apologized, hasn't decided what to do with Alosi.
"Indefinitely is a pretty long time," Johnson said. "We're focused on the season, not really the season, but we're focused on the Chicago Bears at this point. In football, that's about as far as you can go."
The Jets (10-4) take on the Bears (10-4) in Chicago, needing a win to clinch a playoff berth.
"Obviously, tripping somebody outside by a nonplayer is something we don't condone," Johnson said. "You can call it a violation, it's a rules violation. It's not called because it's not done very often."
Johnson also called New England owner Bob Kraft to apologize after Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said the Patriots also use the wall tactic.
"Our job is not to insult another team, particularly from a coach or owner's standpoint," Johnson said. "That's not what we're here to do."
Johnson said his team would learn from its mistakes.
"Once we've made a mistake, I think we are pretty good at trying to make remedies, trying to cure, trying to correct what we're doing, and we try to get better every year," he said. "We're going to work on things like our culture. We're going to work on trying to make ourselves an organization that doesn't have, preferably, any incidents, but we know that we're going to have some."
The Jets certainly did, from the very start of the season.
They were investigated by the league in September after a female reporter, Ines Sainz of TV Azteca, said she felt uncomfortable in the team's locker room. As a result, the Jets developed a workplace conduct program, underwritten by Johnson.
A few weeks later, wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested and charged with drunken driving, a case that is still pending. Prosecutors say Edwards had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit after being pulled over in Manhattan. He was already on probation after pleading no contest to aggravated disorderly conduct in a dustup outside a Cleveland nightclub. Edwards is due back in court Jan. 11.
Last January, Ryan was fined $50,000 by the team after he was caught on a cell phone camera flipping his middle finger at a fan during a mixed-martial arts competition in Sunrise, Fla.
Johnson disagrees with the perception that the Jets have had an "inordinate" number of incidents and doesn't think Ryan's brash personality has helped breed a circuslike environment.
"I don't think it's loosey-goosey and I don't think we lack discipline," Johnson said. "You can't win the number of games we've won, even with a rookie quarterback with a loosey-goosey anything. We are very disciplined. I think the perception is that he smiles or whatever and that gets confused for a lack of whatever. But I don't look at it that way.
"I know the players don't, either. Players want to feel that they are getting better and they want to feel that the people in command are giving them a formula that they are capable of winning with. I think they feel it. I know they feel it."