NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mike Tannenbaum was fired by the Jets on Monday morning, hours before head coach Rex Ryan was due for his scheduled season-ending press conference.
But Ryan’s media availability, set for 4:45 p.m., was postponed by the team. The NFL’s loudest, proudest head coach was suddenly nowhere to be found.
He didn’t speak Tuesday either. The Jets announced on Wednesday that Ryan and owner Woody Johnson would hold their much-anticipated postmortem presser on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
WFAN host Mike Francesa hasn’t heard enough — make that anything — lately from the boisterous coach. But he’s seen enough of Ryan’s “phony act.”
LISTEN: Francesa goes off on Ryan, Jets
“When it got tough, he wasn’t tough,” Francesa seethed Wednesday. “And when it got tough, we watched him quiver in these press conferences, and just sit there and mumble and bumble his way through press conferences at the worst level we’ve seen in this town forever.
“And then, for him to cancel a press conference on Monday after Mr. T gets fired, and not say one word on his behalf, is one of the (most) gutless things I’ve ever seen in this town. And he can look in the mirror and answer to that.”
Francesa said he reached out to the Jets on Monday, told the team he’d be delivering criticism this week, and offered for Ryan and Johnson to come into his studio and “have the floor.”
He was denied.
“Their silence, their actions, speak volumes,” said Francesa. “The owner’s allowed to be angry — he’s the owner. He’s allowed to fire anybody he wants — he’s the owner. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, we know that, but he owns the team.”
Wanting answers about the general manager’s firing and the uncertain job status — which may be an understatement — of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, New York’s scribes have been circling the waters.
“For years, Ryan had preached that he never wants to put a muzzle on a man. Now, he had inexplicably muzzled himself,” wrote New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta, who reported that the coach wasn’t even in town.
In a column for the New York Post, Steve Serby implored Ryan to explain “whether you feel guilty you survived and Tannenbaum didn’t, since he didn’t make a football decision without leaning heavily on you first.”
Francesa accused Ryan and Johnson of hiding out while Tannenbaum took the entire fall.
“Give Tannenbaum credit. He stood up there, he met with the players … and he left with some integrity,” Francesa said. “He took a beating, but he went out like a man. He didn’t go and hide somewhere like Rex Ryan did. What a disgrace.”
There was some talk of New York’s GM search on Twitter. But the chatter among reporters Wednesday was mostly about the suddenly silent Rex.
“I’m calling it now: A month from today, Rex and the groundhog emerge triumphantly,” tweeted Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
Replied Newark Star-Ledger reporter Conor Orr: “Yeah but if he sees his shadow is it six more weeks of a GM search?”
Many have wondered how long Ryan would last under a new general manager. Johnson, who hasn’t met the media since issuing his statement Monday morning, said Ryan would return for a fifth season as head coach.
“I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team,” Johnson said.
“Rex Ryan’s silence isn’t linked to his future with Jets, I’m told,” tweeted Mehta. “He’s under the impression he will remain #NYJ head coach regardless of GM.”
What’s your message to Rex and Woody? Be heard in the comments…