200 Miles From the Citi

February 2, 2010 7:10 AM

Of Rex Ryan's Middle Finger

Rex_Finger.JPGWhen we last left our hero, he had just suffered a humbling setback.  The man that proclaimed his team favorites to win it all had watched his season end in the place it was reborn. 

In the Old West, guys named Rex tamed the Colts...not let them run wild all over the yard.

But he was so humbled, and ol' Rex kept out of the spotlight...for a week.

This here is the story of Rex's return to the media.

Apparently Rex Ryan was in Miami for Super Bowl week, and attended Herschel Walker's mixed-martial arts debut the night before the Pro Bowl.

Ryan, no fan favorite in Miami, was booed soundly as cameras panned the crowd.  In return, Rex flipped off the crowd.

To be honest with you, I find this story funny.  I know the head coach of an NFL team needs to use better judgment, but when I told my dad the story, I laughed.  A lot.  It's hard to get mad at Rex Ryan.

But, as I'm sure the coach also has, I've since given the situation some thought...and there's nothing really good that comes out of it.

First of all, not many people like Rex Ryan to begin with.  It comes with the territory of being a big mouth, and I'm sure Rex knows this.  But flipping people off doesn't endear you to people - it will just make others more likely to goad you to try to get a similar immature response.  So there's that.

But I think there are further repercussions.  Part of the bad blood in Miami stems from the war of words before this season between Channing Crowder of the Dolphins and Ryan.  It carried over a little bit into the season before the Jets and Dolphins first met, and then died down before the teams' second meeting.  (Clearly, though, the Miami fans didn't forget about it.)  Was Ryan trying to re-spark a dying rivalry between the Jets and Dolphins?  Was he just trying to protect one of his players?  (Crowder and Leon Washington have a long-standing hatred of each other.)

Whatever it was, it didn't work.  The Dolphins beat the Jets twice this season.  The rivalry was reborn through two very competitive football games, and both teams being competitive in the division.  If anything, the trash talking fired up the Dolphins and hurt the Jets more than it helped the Jets.

Don't think this middle finger incident won't be brought back to the forefront when the Jets return to Miami next fall.

I bring this up because I don't think, as blustery as he is, Rex Ryan does much without thinking it through ahead of time.  I think he's smarter than he lets on.  And I think a lot of what he does is pre-meditated, in an effort to help his team in some way.

That's why I'm thinking his ulterior motive with Crowder was to take his attention away from, maybe, the rookie quarterback.  (In fact, two of Sanchez's best games this season were against the Dolphins.)

This move, though, I don't think was premeditated.  Which serves as a valuable lesson to the coach himself.  You're the head coach of the New York Jets, in THE major media market.  You need to think before you do anything.  Fans are giving you the business?  Keep your hands in your pockets.  Keep your thoughts to yourself.  No good can come from going back at them.

Here's a better idea - spend your time in better ways than going to mixed martial arts events...doesn't matter if it's Herschel Walker or not.  Go somewhere else.

You're not just a head coach in New York, you've brought a team that was a laughingstock to respectability.  People aren't used to that.  They want to laugh at the Jets and their finger-waving head coach.

Don't make yourself or your team such an easy target.

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