Idzik ’82 named new Jets general manager
By Jasmine Sachar, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, January 31, 2013
John Idzik ’82 grew up a football brat. Football pumped through his veins and colored his childhood. His father coached for Tulane University, the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Colts, and Idzik stayed by his side, eyes wide with wonder while handing out balls, doing laundry or closely observing players.
When Idzik joined the Dartmouth football team in 1978 as a wide receiver, his father was an assistant coach with New York Jets. Now, 35 years later, Idzik will continue the family legacy, returning to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., to serve as the Jets’ general manager.
The Jets reached out to Idzik, the former vice president of football administration for the Seattle Seahawks, in early January when Seattle was beginning its NFL playoff run. After the Seahawks’ 24-14 victory over the Washington Redskins, Idzik flew to the East Coast to accept the position.
“It’s very hard to leave, but when you get an opportunity of this magnitude to work with what you feel are good people who make you feel comfortable, it’s exciting and flattering,” Idzik said.
Idzik replaces Mike Tannenbaum, who had been general manager since 2006. Idzik said he hopes to encourage “comprehensive cohesiveness” among the Jets, whose record suffered in the 2012 season and was compounded by reports of infighting.
“When you have that feeling, which we certainly had in Seattle and Tampa and at Dartmouth, special things can happen,” Idzik said.
Idzik’s football career began at his high school in Philadelphia. His father was a coach for the Eagles and Idzik spent much of his time with the professional team. During the off-season, Idzik ran routes with the wide receivers and was exposed to the team’s techniques and drills.
“I guess you could call it the family business,” Idzik said. “It’s a very unique environment — it’s highly visible, so everyone knows what your dad does and who his colleagues are. But I think you’re not fazed by it, it’s just your everyday life.”
While Idzik was at Dartmouth, his father left Philadelphia for New York to work with the Jets. Idzik split his time between Hanover, Philadelphia and Long Island, spending his summers and off terms with the Jets. Sometimes he would hitch rides with Jets’ defensive lineman Joe Klecko, who also lived in Pennsylvania, to New York.
At Dartmouth, Idzik majored in math and graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Idzik always donned Jets gear — shirts, shorts and cleats — and had a great grasp of the game, former teammate Shaun Teevens ’82 said.
“Guys like John Idzik, they understood the whole scheme, how to catch the ball, how to bring it into his body, how you should practice,” Teevens said. “I was fortunate to have been exposed to guys like that. He was special.”
Football coach Buddy Teevens — Dartmouth’s senior quarterback when Idzik joined the team as a freshman — said that Idzik always stayed late at practices and constantly wanted to catch and improve his skill set.
“You just appreciate people who want to improve and are willing to work hard to prove it,” Buddy Teevens said.
Idzik was injured most of his junior and senior years, which detracted from his playing time. Still, he gained the empathy needed to coach and manage football through his playing time. Having played football and experienced its challenges makes it easier to evaluate and relate to players, he said.
After Dartmouth, Idzik earned his master’s in liberal arts from Duke University while serving as assistant coach to the Blue Devils. He entered the NFL after, working in football administration for 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and three years with the Arizona Cardinals before he moved to Seattle in 2007.
As the Jets’ “numbers guy,” Idzik will manage the team’s salaries, according to ESPN. The Jets are $19.4 million over budget in regards to salary caps. Idzik will also have to address lingering questions about the Jets’ starting quarterback.
In the meantime, Idzik, who held his first public press conference as general manager last Thursday, said he has been trying to adjust to his new job, get up to speed with his staff and learn the day-to-day tasks he will handle.
Heading into next season, the Jets are a highly publicized team, and Idzik said he will find himself at the center of attention.
“It goes with the territory,” Idzik said. “I’m going to be upfront a lot more than I was in the past and I’m not fazed by that.”
The original version of this article misidentified the home of the Jets. The stadium is in East Rutherford, N.J.