Report: Woody Johnson investigated for comments as ambassador

Ambassador Woody Johnson, who purchased the New York Jets in 2000 and currently is the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, issued a statement denying allegations within a CNN report he was investigated by a State Department watchdog for allegations of racist and sexist comments made to staff.

"I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times," Johnson wrote on his official Twitter account. "These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values."

Johnson allegedly made racist remarks about Black men ahead of a Black History Month event in 2018. Johnson also allegedly made inappropriate comments toward women and hosted official events at a men's-only club in London, which prevented the embassy's female diplomats from attending.

CNN's report follows a Tuesday story in the New York Times alleging that Johnson worked on behalf of President Trump to see if the British government could have The Open -- one of the four major PGA tournaments -- held at the Trump-owned Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.

Johnson transferred day-to-day operations of the Jets to his brother, Christopher, when he assumed the role of U.S. ambassador in 2017. Christopher Johnson currently serves as the team's chairman and CEO. The team issued a statement late Wednesday:

"We are aware of allegations against Ambassador Johnson, which he specifically denied in the following statement earlier today: 'I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.'

"Since the Johnson family became owners of the New York Jets, the organization has consistently and actively supported, engaged and encouraged the development of many different social justice, diversity, women's, and inclusion initiatives. These initiatives have been implemented internally and in our community. One of our fundamental principles is treating employees, players, coaches and fans with respect and dignity, regardless of their race, color, religion or gender. These principles have been established by the Johnson family, which Woody implemented in our organization over the past 20 years."

A league spokesperson told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero the NFL is aware of the CNN report and referred questions to the State Department.

A State Department official said in a statement to NFL.com Wednesday that, "Ambassador Johnson is a valued member of the team who has led Mission UK honorably and professionally. We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the UK is strong."

The Fritz Pollard Alliance responded to the allegations against Johnson with the following statement from chairman Harry Carson and executive director Rod Graves: "The Fritz Pollard Alliance is deeply troubled by allegations of insensitive remarks about race and gender made by New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson while serving abroad as a U.S. Ambassador. Allegations of this nature, if true, are damaging to the social fabric of our country and cannot not be tolerated. While only allegations at this point, they are serious. We call on the NFL to carefully monitor this situation and, if the allegations have merit, to take appropriate action and work toward rooting out such sentiments from the NFL community."

Jets star safety Jamal Adams, who has been demanding to be traded from the team, was one player to publicly comment on the CNN report Wednesday, writing on Twitter, "We need the RIGHT people at the top. Wrong is wrong!"

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