Sometimes in the modern era of fast-paced media and constant retweeting, certain terms or phrases can catch on and go viral without being preceded by proper research. Needless to say, New York City is no exception.
Generally speaking, a lame-duck year for a coach in the sports world refers to a coach in the last year of his contract. Without an extension, a coach is often operating under the expectation of leaving the organization after the season, thus making him a lame duck.
Lately, Rex Ryan and lame duck have almost become synonymous. As one of countless examples, Johnette Howard of ESPNNewYork.com commented regarding Rex Ryan: "Tuesday has painfully underscored how [Rex Ryan's] lame-duck contract year is looking lamer by the hour."
The same term has been used by James Walker of ESPN.com and many other prominent figures.
Gary Myers of NYDailyNews.com also emphasized Ryan's "lame-duck" status:
Rex Ryan [is] now a lame duck coach of [the New York Jets] with a new GM on the way to replace Mike Tannenbaum... [Owner Woody Johnson] is going to try to make it work by hiring a more skilled personnel man than Tannenbaum to run the football operation and rebuild the Jets, but making him keep Ryan, who all of a sudden appears to be a lame duck.
Now technically speaking, none of these reports have claimed anything false. The term lame duck is a somewhat subjective term and can be interpreted by each in their own way. What has struck me as interesting is how the narrative and dialogue in a variety of media outlets have changed with the introduction of this term.
I have noticed in my own personal experience that most of the fans I hear from think Ryan is in the last year of his contract.
Yet, here is the really interesting part:
Rex Ryan has two years left on his contract.
You can take a moment to finish gasping.
In case you doubt the truth of that revelation, here are a couple of clear sources. Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com was one of the first to confirm Ryan's contract extension when it originally occurred in 2010:
The New York Jets locked up coach Rex Ryan... with contract extensions through 2014, the team announced Friday... Wanting to keep Ryan on equal footing with [general manager Mike Tannenbaum], owner Woody Johnson added two years to Ryan's contract.
Sean Leahy of USAToday.com confirmed the same information, that Ryan is signed through the end of the 2014 season.
So the next time you hear someone calling Rex Ryan a lame-duck coach, you can offer them a friendly reminder that he is not in actuality a lame duck this year.
Naturally, this does not guarantee Ryan's long-term job security any more than any other NFL coach.
At any point, Ryan could be fired, same as anyone else. In a nutshell, he is in a completely ordinary contract situation: he is coaching with two years left on his contract, trying to win games and impress his boss.
Anyone who follows sports news knows that there are a plethora of figures in the national media who advocate the firing of Rex Ryan. However, it is intriguing to instead consider how Woody Johnson and John Idzik feel.
Remember, those are the only two opinions that matter. Johnson has supported Rex Ryan for his entire tenure. Idzik took the general manager position knowing that it meant he would be working with Ryan and expressed no displeasure at that.
Do either of those two men have any intention of parting with Ryan any time soon? It is certainly a question to mull over.