By Jason Keidel
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So does it make the Mt. Rushmore of meltdowns? Does it nestle nicely between Jim Mora and Dennis Green? Was it more Mike Ditka or Mike Gundy?
Or does Rex Ryan’s press conference stand alone? His pseudo-rant was surreal, as he moonwalked from a reporter, giving the forest of cameras a every mugshot angle they need, sans the serial number under his chin.
His faux pas was so fertile with subplots you would be right to start with any story. Was this the red-faced refrain of a man about to lose his job? Or was he justified in losing his temper after hearing the same question six times?
Ryan bristled after he was incessantly poked about the possibility of Geno Smith getting the Jets’ starting QB job. The reporter didn’t like the answer and then it became a silly “gotcha” game, replete with regurgitated questions, answers, Alpha males, and arrogance.
Or was it typical media hyperbole? There’s nothing like some feigned indignity from some sanctimonious beat writer, who often has an equally swollen ego.
The only thing that matches a meltdown from our local celebrity sports pinata is the jock-sniffing, self-righteous reporter who thinks his question is the most profound of all. If a question isn’t answered in a time and tone they expect, well, we’re talking First Amendment affronts of the highest order.
Or maybe it’s somewhere in the middle. Maybe it was a toxic blend of two Type A personalities fighting for semantic supremacy. Weirder things have been known to happen in front of a microphone, after a loss or loss of an important player.
Reporters get tired of waiting for the coach/manager/player to bless the media with his presence and then spends the entire time reminding the writers he hates answering their questions. Then you have writers on deadline who are tired of asking the cookie-cutter questions and would rather be writing a novel or a full-length feature for Esquire than banging out template copy for the Parsippany Post.
Either way, it seems the once-beloved, bubbly coach, is a dead man walking. After two years and two AFC title games later, he was a fresh breeze down the stuffy, sterile halls of NFL corporate. Rex tore the cover off the “No Fun League” and made Hard Knocks his X-Rated echo chamber.
Funny thing happened, however, during ascent to the Super Bowl. Turns out his hubris has an expiration date. Turns out he really is a defensive coordinator in head coach’s clothing.
And if you dissect the second two years, it’s pretty obvious. He took Eric Mangini’s players, imbued them with his brand of bravado, and took them as for as they could go. But you can’t coach a team long-term and not even watch them snap the ball. You can’t surrender your offense to Tony Sparano.
Turning his back on a reporter was the perfect metaphor for his offense, which he sees more as an inconvenience than a weapon, a mere pit stop for his cherished defense to catch its breath on the sideline.
Ignoring half your team is how you insert your starting QB with the second-stringers in the fourth quarter of a meaningless game. And once Mark Sanchez got smoked by a behemoth who broke through an anemic offensive line, Ryan was acutely defensive in the post-game presser. He knew he goofed. But he is allergic to modesty and introspection.
If you look around the league, at the coaches who prosper, you don’t see any who guarantee Super Bowls, who tattoo their quarterback’s visage to their limbs, who film foot fetish videos, or who run down alleys with large, horned mammals in Spain.
Ryan is like the dad who wants to be your buddy. It sounds really serene and pastoral until the son winds up in prison because. While you were busy being your boy’s BFF, he didn’t develop a work ethic, shunned college, spurned good entry-level jobs, and decided that dealing drugs was the way to go.
Dad needs to be the boss first, friend later. Head coaches need to be the dictator first, your wing man after your career. It’s a lesson Rex Ryan hasn’t learned, no matter what angle he faces.
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