Everyone knows “that guy”… the guy you grew up with who went on to become a doctor or businessman or something else respectable like that. He’s got a family, a nice house – an all-around good guy whose neighbours and colleague think he’s the salt of the Earth.
But all you can think about was the time he got hammered and relieved himself in the dryer when he was 19.
Rex Ryan is that guy.
Sure, he’s led the New York Jets to two AFC Championships and is something of a defensive mastermind, but even if Ryan decided to come back to the Big Apple next year in a suit and tie and somehow change his daily persona into Bill Belichick instead of Bozo the Clown, you’re always going to think of him as the guy with the foot fetish who tattooed a cartoon of his wife wearing only a Mark Sanchez jersey on his arm.
That’s Rex Ryan in a nutshell: He’s that guy. And that’s why, whether it’s of his own accord or if the team’s new GM lets him go, he should not be the head coach of the New York Jets in 2013.
Ryan started out hot – he was the loveable, fresh face on the biggest stage in pro sports. In his first season, he was the perfect antidote to the dreadful Eric Mangini and the Brett Favre saga of 2008. He got results right away, leading the Jets to a 9-7 finish with rookie pivot Sanchez running the offence.
Ryan’s crew went on to win a pair of playoff games before hitting a wall in the AFC title game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, but heading into the 2010 season, there was a good feeling surrounding the coach, the club, and its young starting quarterback.
The first sign of the wheels looking like they might fall off came before the 2010 campaign when the coach had one of those “Rex Ryan-being-Rex Ryan” moments and publicly guaranteed that the Jets were going to win the Super Bowl.
Sure, a lot of eyebrows were raised at the brashness of his statement, but he was able to back up his swagger with an 11-5 campaign, and all seemed to be well in Jetsland.
Then came the foot fetish incident.
Frankly, how or why this became a public issue isn’t really important. The point is that somehow, Ryan’s personal desires became front-page material when the focus should have been on his team’s brilliant season.
Rex Ryan is “that guy.”
A few weeks later and the Jets were once again just a game short of the Super Bowl, having lost their second-straight AFC Championship game, but the talk over the winter wasn’t about being excited about 2011. It was about Mrs. Ryan’s feet.
2011 was Ryan’s first non-playoff season with the Jets, and 2012 was a total and complete disaster from Day 1.
Granted, it wasn’t Ryan’s call to bring in Mr. Distraction, Tim Tebow as the new backup quarterback, but it was Ryan’s call to stick with Sanchez to almost the very bitter end. And it was Ryan’s supposedly genius defence that gave up almost 400 points in 16 games.
Now fast forward to the first few days of 2013. Ryan’s old boss, Mike Tannenbaum has been canned from his GM post, but team owner Woody Johnson decided to keep his coach on board. You’d think Ryan and the Jets PR team would be able to highlight the positive and he could take advantage of the second chance he’d been given.
But instead of getting in front of a microphone and talking shop with the New York media about how excited he is to get a new GM and start fresh in ’13, Ryan is on the cover of a major NYC daily sporting a tattoo of his wife basically stripping out of Mark Sanchez jersey.
I mean, c’mon Rex. What’s next? You’re going to engineer a mid-game trade of one of your star players and then not let him take his jersey as a keepsake?
Time to move on
In reality, the best bet for the New York Jets and the career of Rex Ryan is for the team and its coach to part ways and for Ryan to hide in a cave for a year before signing on as some big-name coach’s defensive coordinator for a couple of years.
Ryan may be a very good head coach someday, but this is a classic case of needing to take one step backwards before taking two more in the right direction.
Otherwise it’s a pretty strong bet that New York’s funniest comedy of 2013 will be in the Meadowlands instead of on Broadway.