NEW YORK — Matt Higgins is ready to tackle his next challenge.
The New York Jets' executive vice president of business operations announced Tuesday that he is resigning to explore "some entrepreneurial opportunities" after eight years with the team, including the last four as owner Woody Johnson's right-hand man.
"It's really been a period of tremendous transformation and I'm proud of everything we accomplished as a team," Higgins said. "We've built a new stadium, created a new practice facility and in many ways, transformed the brand. One of the aspects I'm proudest of is that we created a culture of innovation and took fan engagement to a whole other level."
Bob Parente, the team's senior vice president of programming and media production, will assume Higgins' role on an interim basis while the Jets conduct a search to fill the position permanently. Parente, who has been with the franchise for more than 35 years, will be a candidate for the job.
"He knows this team inside and out," Higgins said. "He's part of the DNA."
The 37-year-old Higgins is credited with being a key force behind the Jets' push for a new stadium, a joint venture with the Giants, along with building a new facility in Florham Park, N.J., and helping the team become one of the first to embrace social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
"Obviously, I feel like we righted a lot of historical wrongs in terms of the franchise, such as the stadium situation and creating this tremendous practice facility," Higgins said. "You walk in here every day and you're proud to come to work, and it telegraphs to everybody Woody's commitment to creating a winning organization. We've also transformed our culture, and I think we've elevated the brand to new heights."
Higgins spoke to Johnson near the end of the season to tell him he would be moving on after serving in four positions with the team, adding that it was "completely my decision."
"He knows I'm a restless soul," Higgins said with a laugh. "I enjoy building and creating and embracing challenges, so I let him know this would be my last season and when the season was over, I would be moving on. He first asked, 'Are you sure?' but he's always been very supportive."
Higgins, who informed the team's business staff of his plans Tuesday morning, declined to disclose details of his future plans. He will officially leave his post after the Super Bowl.