x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ryan is having fun with war of words

You'll have to excuse Rex Ryan. He is new to the job and doesn't know yet that you are not supposed to act like it is fun to be paid millions of dollars to coach a football team.

You'll have to excuse Rex Ryan. He is new to the job and doesn't know yet that you are not supposed to act like it is fun to be paid millions of dollars to coach a football team. Ryan is the newly hired head coach of the New York Jets, a job for which he is guaranteed US$11million (Dh40m) over the next four years and one for which he has been preparing nearly all his life.

The son of the former-NFL head coach Buddy Ryan, who was most famous for his days as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears when they were raucously winning the Super Bowl in 1986 with one of the stingiest and most talkative defences in football history, Ryan has spent nearly all his professional life in and around the NFL so you would think he'd know by now you are supposed to make having your dream job look like it is as unpleasant a task as scouring the innards of trash trucks for a living.

Why laugh about anything when there is a football game to worry about in three months? Fortunately for the larger world, Ryan cannot help himself. He is his father's son, a guy who was always quick with a quip. The apple has not fallen far from the tree, even if it has landed in the Big Apple and that is refreshing to most but baffling to a guy like Bill Belichick, the stoic New England Patriots coach.

The Jets are one of the Patriots' great rivals. Hatred runs deep there. This has been going on for years and shows no signs of abating. Ryan's presence has only added to what he apparently sees as an opportunity to have a little bit of fun. Recently, Ryan was asked if he was nervous about having to oppose Belichick's Patriots, who have won three Super Bowls this decade and appeared in four while the Jets have not been there since Joe Namath was running the place in 1968.

"I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings," Ryan chortled. "I came here to win. Let's put it that way. So we'll see what happens. I'm certainly not intimidated by New England, or anybody else." Ryan made that clear a few days later, after the Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Channing Crowder criticised him for his apparent bluster. You want bluster? Here. "I don't know this Channing Crowder," Ryan said with a laugh. "All I know is he's all tatted [tattooed] up so I guess I ought to be nervous about him?"

When Crowder got wind of that he said something about how he, at 25, would handle the 46-year-old Ryan and then amended it to suggest his dad or his uncle could take care of the problem for him. "He's talking again?" Ryan said. "I've walked over tougher guys [than him] going to a fight. He can send himself and his father after me." In the normally tight-lipped world of American professional football coaches, Ryan's words came as a shock. To anybody with a functioning brain they were hilarious. To Bill Belichick? What's so funny?

"Right now I'm just trying to coach our team and get our guys ready to have a good week of practice and get them ready for training camp," Belichick droned three months before the season is to begin. "That's really what we're up for, getting our team ready and when it's time to play we will show up to play. "I'm just trying to get ready to play and that's it. We open with Buffalo so that is the next team we play. We play Miami and the Jets in due time. They'll be tough games like they usually are."

Blah, blah, blah. Thank goodness guys like Belichick weren't around when the NFL was founded. If they had been the Super Bowl wouldn't even be a mug. rborges@thenational.ae