Mike Francesa's Latest Reason To Bash the Jets: Personal Seat Licenses

Michael Gasparino@gaspoCorrespondent IMay 13, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 9:  Chris Russo (L) and Mike Francesa attend Joe Torre's Safe at Home 5th Annual Gala on November 9, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Let's put a few things right up front: PSLs are evil.

Personal Seat Licenses afford the owner the option to purchase season tickets for whichever seats he or she has a PSL. They are one of the worst developments to strike sports fandom since $8 beers and paying $30 for parking. They are just another way for greedy owners to bleed fans dry. Fans hate them.

WFAN's Mike Francesa said as much on his radio show Thursday, when he opened with a rant concerning a story in the New York Post, where Jets owner Woody Johnson admitted that the team had about 10,000 PSLs left unsold.

What Francesa then spent the next hour-plus screaming about was how Johnson "threatened" Jets fans with blackouts if the PSLs did not sell.

Except Johnson never said that.

The reporter asked Johnson specifically if the Jets would either reduce the PSL prices or sell seats with unsold PSLs for individual games.

The quote: “No, we're not going to do that," Johnson said of selling the lower-bowl seats without PSLs for individual games, shaking his head for emphasis.

Francesa took that and ran, saying that Johnson was threatening the Jets fans with blackouts by not agreeing, in May, to sell tickets on a game-by-game basis. He then told fans listening to "call his bluff" because the league would never allow New York to be blacked out, and Johnson would capitulate eventually because if he forced a blackout he'd be run out of town on a rail.

Francesa then went on, correctly, to discuss how sports tickets are overpriced in general and how the Yankees and Mets can't sell out their games, especially the good seats.

But he refused to consider that Johnson is caught between a rock and a hard place.

He can't agree at this early date that he would lower prices or sell games individually, as it would kill any chance of selling remaining PSLs, and it would piss off those who have already paid for them, thereby opening a Pandora's box of refunds that any owner would like to keep tightly shut.

In the Post article, Johnson said the PSLs were "fairly priced" (of course, what else would he say) and "[they're] selling right along our trend lines, so we’re good to go."

Is that a threat?

An AP article found on the WFAN Web site reads: "Johnson also says if there are any remaining unsold PSLs, the team will not make them available on a game-by-game basis because it would be unfair to existing PSL holders."

Francesa's take was that Johnson was given an opportunity to declare that the Jets would never black out games but declined it, which was tantamount to shaking down the fans. Except he was never asked directly, "Will you black out games?"

It's also not the team's choice; the league mandates that a percentage of tickets be sold to avoid a blackout in the home market.

Francesa was quick to compare the greedy Johnson to the white knight Giants owner, John Mara, who he claimed said on the air that the Giants "would never black out games." Francesa reported that Mara said the team would sell unsold PSL tickets on an individual game basis, adding that Mara "looked at me like I was crazy" when he asked about blackouts.

A caller later recalled that show and said that Mara never said "never." Rather, Mara had said the Giants would not want to black out games. Then again, the Giants only have 1,500 PSLs left, so there's almost no risk of that happening—of course, Mara can say he'll sell those seats.

Johnson and the Jets can't appear to be so gregarious, not at this point. But Francesa turned it into a threat, loudly (how else would he sound?), claiming that everything the Jets do is to sell PSLs, going so far as to say that Johnson is the one who makes Rex Ryan "act like a buffoon."

So, let me get this straight: Rex Ryan is, in reality, a mousy librarian type, but one of the conditions of taking the Jets head coaching job was that he would have to agree to act the way he does—loud, unfiltered, cocky—on Johnson's orders, where Johnson is the puppet-master?


What this is all about is that Francesa, the Giants fan, is looking for any way to hammer the Jets.

Here are a few things he said at the top of the show (mostly paraphrased):

"The Giants are light years ahead of the Jets in every way."

"When Johnson speaks, chaos follows."

"Johnson's made a big mistake, and it's not the first or the last. He makes a lot of them."

"Johnson's never worked a day in his life." (True)

And on and on.

The Giants and Jets, by the way, price their PSLs about the same, although the Jets do have some club seats at the $30K and $25K level, where the Giants' most costly PSL is $20K. The rest of the stadium PSLs and ticket prices are about the same for the two teams, except the Jets do not charge PSLs for the top tier, while the Giants charge $1,000 PSLs per seat up top.

Did Francesa mention that? No.

In all, it was typical Francesa. He took the obvious side in a one-sided argument (PSLs are bad), then destroyed an owner he does not like (Johnson) and a team he likes to crap on (the Jets) by blowing something up and distorting what was actually said without considering why Johnson really couldn't say anything other than what he did.


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