Rex Ryan: Confident, Impressive, and Infuriating
Loud? Brash? Arrogant? Irritating? The New York Jets are all of those things; and they are proud of it.
The same words can be, and are commonly, applied to the majority of Jets fans too.
Over the last 18 months the New York Jets have transitioned into Super Bowl challengers. But with their new reputation as legitimate challengers, they have gained themselves another as they look set to become the most hated team in the NFL.
With the exception of “Green Gang” members themselves, it would be fair to assume that people want to see the Jets suffer this year, and it appears that there is a catalyst for all this hate.
Step forward Rex Ryan.
The former defensive-coordinator in Baltimore has been a constant source of irritation for NFL fans all across the world. His brash, confident attitude has done nothing to win him admirers; but it isn’t admiration that Ryan wants. He wants a Super Bowl ring.
Not just that, but Ryan seems certain that he is going to get it. He says that this year is the year, declaring that the Jets would win the Super Bowl, with all the confidence and swagger of a newly-single Tiger Woods at the Playboy mansion.
His players welcome the expectations too, and they don’t see it as a burden, but as a resounding show of support from a coach who believes in their abilities. They are revelling in the new-found confidence of their coach, and believe it is Ryan’s bold statements that helped them to the AFC Championship final last year.
This year, they see no reason why they can’t go one step further.
However, all these claims have achieved outside of New York, is riling the opposition fans who want to see the coach with egg on his face come the end of the season. Sadly right now, they only seem to be seeing Rex Ryan. A lot of Rex Ryan.
Nobody can get away from Ryan and his Jets, and if it wasn’t enough for rival fans to be subjected to listening to Ryan throughout the season (and one has to feel for Giants fans with the New York media), the Jets further propelled their loud-mouthed coach into the limelight when their training camp was featured on the TV programme “Hard Knocks”.
All off-season it was impossible to go a day without hearing about the Jets’ new additions and free-agent coups. Now everybody had to watch them on television before the season had even begun.
Well, not everyone. Tom Brady admitted that he hadn’t watched the show citing his reason: He hates the Jets.
He isn’t the only one on the bandwagon either. Ryan did not mince his words on the show, and Tony Dungy criticised his foul-mouthed appearances, questioning his behaviour on a show that should be suitable for kids.
With most of Miami, New England, and Buffalo already well established Jets-haters, all Ryan has done is given them more reasons to dislike the Jets. Not that this bothers him.
After hearing about Brady’s dislike for those in green, Ryan responded that it was fine with him. He doesn’t like the Patriots.
Unfortunately for Dolfans, it is Miami who have been victims of the most provocation. Not content with arguing with Channing Crowder and flipping off a Dolphins fan (which resulted in Ryan’s pockets being lighter to the tune of $50,000), he felt it necessary to try and sign a 36 year old linebacker who only managed limited game time last season.
Why was this an issue? Well, the man in question was a certain Jason Taylor; Dolphins’ talisman and hero. Whether there was an offer on the table from Miami or not, Taylor chose to sign for the Jets, and he shouldn’t expect a hero’s welcome when he returns to Miami in just a few weeks time.
For one minute it shouldn’t be suggested that Ryan was signing Taylor to get at Miami; he is still a productive player with exceptional leadership qualities, but Ryan would have been more popular in south Florida if he’d caused an oil spill in the Everglades.
Despite all the talk, all the arrogance, and all the guarantees, and all the inflammatory actions, the worst thing about Rex Ryan is that he is a success.
He took the Jets to the AFC Championship final last year, creating a side with confidence, experience, and a winning-mentality. It is a talented side with real ability, and they were stopped only by a ruthless Payton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts.
The new coach became the centre of attention last year, his guarantees almost eclipsing the on-field success of his team. This year, it has got even worse. With the media clamouring around Ryan and his new star-studded roster, the truth of it is that it is impossible to get away from the Jets. It is impossible to escape Rex Ryan, and part of the reason for this is that he has transformed the Jets into legitimate contenders.
They could win the AFC East. They could win the AFC Championship. They could even win the Super Bowl.
They have the talent necessary for a Super Bowl win at their disposal and they have a coach capable of taking his team close to the Promised Land in just his first year in charge. The roster has since improved, and very few would question whether Ryan could take them one step further. They have everything in place to make a big run at the Super Bowl.
So, naturally, we must hate them.
Once a team are challengers or successful, they become unpopular.
Just ask fans of New England Patriots, Manchester United, and the New York Yankees. All hated passionately just because of their success.
Right now the Jets are just challengers, but expect the hate to multiply ten-fold should the Jets actually win something. The fear of them winning in bad enough for some.
The actual thought of Rex Ryan travelling around the world with a Super Bowl ring on one of his chubby little bratwursts? It's so horrifying it doesn’t bare thinking about.
Right now, people can't stand them.
Fans tell themselves they would never want to support the Jets, and they justify it by telling their friends by telling them to look at their big, fat, foul-mouthed coach. Look at their fans. Look at their dirty-green uniform. Listen to how their name rhymes with Wets. Look at how they unlucky they are to have to share their new, beautiful, state of the art stadium. Look at their team of greedy, money-grabbers, serial womanisers and pot-heads. Why would you ever want to be a part of that?
It is jealousy of the most awful kind; the kind where you are so blinded by bias that you even fail to notice the jealousy.
Miami fans have already convinced themselves that Jason Taylor was overrated, over the hill, in it for the money, and they never wanted him to retire a Dolphin!
Pittsburgh fans tell themselves that they were happy to see a former Super Bowl MVP leave for a fifth-round draft pick as he never offered anything to the team, was always on drugs, and he wasn't worth anything more. Fans all around the NFL tell themselves that they are happy that their team didn’t draft Mark Sanchez…
Hang on. That last one might be true.
But it is jealousy all the same. We are jealous of their players. We are jealous of their new stadium. We are jealous that our receiver might have to make a trip to “Revis Island” this year (unless the hold-out continues, and long may it continue!) We are jealous that the New York Jets might win the Super Bowl.
In addition to the fear of the Jets potential success, they have the cocky players (Bart Scott). They have enough big-money signings to earn the “money-grabbing” tag. They even have a coach who must rank amongst the most infuriating of all time.
Then we come to their fans.
The most irritating, argumentative, biased fans; possibly in the history of sport. The sort of people that you could tell that Elvis is dead, giving them the medical evidence to support your assumption, and they would still argue that the King lives.
But you know what? We’re just a little bit jealous of them too.
Sure, they might be long-suffering fans, without even an AFC title to their name, but you can’t help but admire the fanatical support they give their team.
Who could fail to be annoyed by that ridiculous J-E-T-S chant (which your new boy Taylor slated by the way). Who couldn’t agree that Jets fans “take the ‘cl’ out of class? (thanks to Jason Taylor for that one too).
Who can't help but admite their mettle though. They won’t back down. They won’t shut up. They won’t ever accept that they are wrong.
But they are devout. They are incredibly loyal. And if they didn’t annoy you so much, you would be tempted to say that they deserve a Super Bowl, because that loyalty should eventually be rewarded.
Rex Ryan is the perfect match for them. He epitomises everything that a good Jets fan is about; loud, brash, unequivocal in his confidence in the franchise, and unwavering in his support for the team.
Now, the whole NFL wants to see whether that confidence can be repaid, and if the New York Jets can finally deliver.
So, for now we all wait in anticipation.
We wait to see who will be the first team to put a whipping on the star-studded Jets. We watch on with smiles on our faces as Darrelle Revis continues his hold-out, and we hope to God it continues well into next season too. We wait expectantly with the hope of watching Sanchez throw five more interceptions in just one game. We wait to see if the Jets are all talk and no action, so we can finally shut their fans up for good and prove to them they just aren’t that good.
We wait for the Jets to fail. But that’s just how they like it.