“Rex Being Rex” Ain’t Good Enough ….

August 19, 2010 |

Over the course of the last week, we’ve all heard nearly every conceivable defense of Rex Ryan’s boorish, egotistical and salaciously driven style.

This community has an obvious and understandable soft spot for Rex and his publicly exposed antics. While the soccer mom in Des Moines, Iowa, might’ve dropped her jaw at a few snippets of last week’s Hard Knocks debut, we just shrugged and thought “yeah, that’s him ….”

And, to be totally honest, that was my initial reaction to Rex’s first couple drops of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge bombs.

Yet, somewhere amid a program aimed at training camp reality, we seemed to be exposed to a boastful coach’s rendition of Andrew Dice Clay, minus the intimate gathering and cigarette. I think it’s fair to say Rex crossed the line of responsible representation.

As I’ve said in the past, he doesn’t simply represent Rex Ryan Inc.

He is the face of the New York Jets. He is a steward among 32 of the NFL’s elite minds. He is a role model for impressionable players and future coaches. At least, I thought he was …..

Now, I’m not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended by anything Rex Ryan says or does on television. And, I’m definitely not a hypocrite – I have used language that exceeds the vulgarity of anything heard on Hard Knocks. But, I don’t use it in mixed company, regardless of my purpose.

In the days that have engulfed last week’s Hard Knocks premiere, Rex Ryan’s name has become an even greater lightning rod for discussion and debate. It seems like EVERY football fan has an opinion of his antics.

And, to be totally fair about this subject, Rex has garnered a flattering amount of defenders and loyalists. Yeah, yeah, I get the whole 1st Ammendment argument. That’s fine. But, having the right to do or say something doesn’t qualify that action as responsible or prudent.

People pay extraordinary prices for things they say every single day.

That said, the most regurgitated and recycled defense of Rex’s antics last week …. or ANY OTHER SITUATION WHERE HE SAYS STUPID, ILL-ADVISED THINGS, is “that’s just Rex being Rex” or “that’s the way he is.”

Really?

Is that the best possible excuse available?

Unfortunately, the “that’s just ____ being ____” tag is being used way too often to oblige someone’s shortcomings.

The phrase, as I recall, was first used to defend Manny Ramirez’s lazy and distracted approach to playing baseball at the highest level. Manny’s quirky, disinterested customs eventually have a negative impact on the team he represents. Just ask Theo Epstein and Ned Colletti.

Yet, its become kinda sheik to arbitrarily say “that’s just Manny being Manny.” I guess the line is getting old with more people than me. I recently heard the Manny-phrase refigured to its true spirited intent …..

That’s just a JACKASS being a JACKASS.

Fair enough.

But, it doesn’t begin to excuse someone for improper behavior or decorum. In fact, there is no legitimate reason for being a JACKASS.

Manny Ramirez’s indifference to detail was tolerated, because he was productive with a bat in his hands. But, when the baggage outweighs the production, even Manny is shown the door. The Red Sox aborted their franchise of his presence – and paid his remaining salary ($7 million) for the 2008 season.

The Dodgers want to trade Manny, too. But, they’re not in a spot to eat his remaining 2010 salary.

The moral to this message? Even the productive jackasses find a way to ruin a good thing; a good home.

Now, I’m not calling Rex Ryan a “jackass.” I want to be very clear about that. I will LOVE him forever …. for bringing a decade of intensity to the Ravens feared defense. I will always respect his gameplanning and innovative techniques. And, I will wish him well, except when his team plays the Ravens.

But, aside from my personal perspective of anything regarding Rex Ryan, he will meet the same ultimate demise as Manny Ramirez and hundreds of other NFL coaches. That’s the way it is.

He’s in the FISH BOWL environment of New York. It’s the epicenter of anything media-related. Of course, this includes sports media.

Rex Ryan has not been totally spared by New York sports media, either. The Jets lost 6 of 7 games in the middle stretch of the 2009 season, and Rex took his beating from reporters. But, he lucked out and the Colts purposely tanked a matchup against “Gang Green” in Week 16 …. which opened a door to the postseason for the Jets.

As everyone knows, they got HOT at the right time. The Jets advanced to the AFC Championship, before losing to the Colts. The next day, the New York media took their shots at Rex …..

In the months that have passed, many New Yorkers embraced that postseason run and lauded “Sexy Rexy” for delivering some excitement that Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini, Pete Caroll and Rich Kotite (remember him?) couldn’t deliver. He’s become a cult hero, of sorts.

On the wave of popularity, HBO’s Hard Knocks showed up on the doorstep.

And, the love affair between Rex Ryan, New York’s media and the fans is a threesome for the ages. But, stay tuned …..

Potential critics are biting their tongues as the Darrelle Revis saga stretches on. But, let the Jets lose to the Ravens, without Revis in the secondary (he’ll be there) and Rex will hear it. If the Jets lose to the Patriots or Dolphins, Rex will hear hear it. If the Jets fall short of last year’s finish, Rex will hear it.

Welcome to New York.

Trust me, this Hard Knocks experience is going to rear a very ugly head at some point before that big ball falls in Time Square. And, Rex is going to be the target of everyone’s frustration …..

“You had to show off for the cameras”

“You had to bring in Broadway Joe”

“You had to brag about the Super Bowl”

“You had to let Sanchise get a bigger ego”

“You had to F-this and F-that”

Watch and see, it’s coming. Meanwhile, as I wrote last week, Belichick and Parcells/Sporano are hard at work, while secretly plotting to do two things …..

1) Win the AFC-East

2) Embarrass Rex Ryan

Just as Rex promotes himself, he also exposes himself. Eventually, the baggage becomes too heavy to bear. Enter, Manny Ramirez ….

While the bottom line is WINNING, Rex has compromised other important qualities demanded of a Head Coach. Yeah, Woody Johnson is willing to overlook the f-bomb debacle, so long as the Jets win. And, therein lies the first potential crack in this relationship.

Let the Jets lose. And, compound it with team sponsors avoiding Rex’s endorsement, because of his Hard Knocks stand-up comedy routine. Then, we’ll see just how appealing the “New York Rex Ryan” product will be for everyone.

Will Sprint, Marriott, MetLife, jetBlue, Coors Light, Pathmark and Primesport want Rex Ryan pitching their product. I’m betting “NO FREAKIN’ WAY.”

In fact, if Rex sticks to his guns and resulting language, he’ll eventually be unmarketable. And, that might suit him fine. But, it’s not good business.

Of course, this whole soap opera has birthed residual drama throughout the sports and entertainment world …..

Tony Dungy has suggested he wouldn’t hire Rex Ryan as a head coach.

Buddy Ryan (Rex’s pops) has basically challenged Dungy to a cage match.

And, virtually everyone else is saying “that’s just Rex being Rex.” For better or worse …..

I guess Rex really is being himself ….. or he was being himself. After watching last night’s Hard Knocks, I noticed that Rex cleaned up his publicly-placed language, significantly. In fact, he dropped the f-bomb just one time, and the camera camouflaged his mouth when it occurred.

Yesterday afternoon, I drew a comparison (or difference) between Rex Ryan and Giants Head Coach, Tom Coughlin …..

If you recall, Coughlin was portrayed as a guy who would not fit in New York. His players hated him and he was known as a sheepishly bad interview. He’s now entering his 7th season on the job.

Rex Ryan, on the other hand, is being portrayed as the “perfect fit” for the New York media personality. His players love him and he’s as engaging as Bill Clinton at a stag party. Rex owns New York …. just ask him.

The differences between these two coaches are immense. Rex has that firey, tumultuous intensity. He’s a FLARE. He burns hot and bright. But, flares generally don’t last very long. Coughlin is a low key kinda guy. He’s a candle. He burns slow and dim. Yet, he lasts a fairly substantial time.

These qualities can and do exist in every pro sports town. New York, in the global scope, really has nothing to do with it.

So, here we sit less than a month before the 2010 season commences. Rex Ryan has been busy writing checks his team will be forced to cash. He has promised more than wins. He has guaranteed a Super Bowl.

Once again, his mouth could catapult him above the mere mortals. Or, it could prove to be his biggest liability. I’m betting on the latter. I love Rex, but his team got lucky, last year. And, they’re overhyped, this year.

While Rex will not be joining Manny Ramirez among the unemployed anytime soon, he’s bound to get humbled sooner rather than later.

I think we’re all going to find out that Rex Ryan is a bit of a charade. That aside, if he doesn’t deliver, he’ll eventually find himself commanding an NFL team’s defense in another city.

Regardless, I’d bet the house that Tony Dungy won’t be his boss …..

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