New York coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday that the Jets “respect” Tom Brady.
They just have a funny way of showing it.
Like when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie goes into a profanity-laced rant against Brady, claiming he hates him.
Ryan lit the latest fuse when he charged the Pats quarterback with “Brady being Brady,” referring to his finger-pointing to the Jets sideline after his touchdown pass gave the Patriots a 38-3 lead on the way to New England’s 45-3 humiliation of the Jets in their first-place showdown in December.
“We see that a lot. He does it a lot,” Cromartie told the New York Daily News. “That’s the kind of guy he is.
If Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez can drop as many touchdown bombs as his teammates drop F-bombs on the Patriots, this is going to be a New York moment unlike any they’ve seen since Joe Willy Namath invented trash-talk.
When it comes to the verbal war the Jets are throwing a shutout. The Patriots aren’t even in the game.
Only one problem for the Jets.
Being a smart-mouth may earn you the gratitude of reporters and headline writers but last time we checked it has never won anyone a Super Bowl.
Wednesday, Ryan invoked Cromartie’s constitutional rights in defending him.
Seems a bit over the top, but then we are talking about Rex here: “First off, in this country, you’re allowed to have opinions, and all that kind of stuff,” said Ryan, with the only thing missing being the sounds of Paul Revere’s horse’s hoofbeats heading off into the night.
“Obviously, as an organization, we respect Tom Brady, there is no question about it. But hey, is there dislike between us and Brady, and Brady against the Jets? Of course there is.”
The reaction out of Foxborough was typical: Not so much as a raised eyebrow.
If there’s going to be a comeback, the Patriots evidently are hoping to deliver it when they step onto the field Sunday.
“That’s a big part of it, too,’’ running back Sammy Morris, who in 11 NFL seasons has pretty much seen and heard everything. “Like I said, part of (Cromartie’s outburst) is personality and part of that is the coach and players around you. It’s not what we do.’’
Taking the lead
The players on both clubs seem to reflect the attitudes of their head coaches.
Ryan is all about bombast and style and headlines. Earlier this week he mocked Brady for not studying as much as Peyton Manning. He’s about as subtle as a punch in the nose.
Belichick is like the silent assassin. A football intelligentsia. Big on substance. He has all the flair and flamboyance of a washed-out, year-old hoody.
That attitude has not gone unrequited by Brady who answered Cromartie’s comment with: “I’ve been called worse.”
He greeted Ryan’s salvo regarding his study habits with similar insouciance: “Everybody has their opinion,” he said, turning a colourful argument into Bill Belichick-beige. “Maybe he’s right.”
What we have here is a case of the bland leading the bland.
There has been much written and talked about how Ryan is trying to take the pressure off his team, how he’s the great motivator creating an Us Against The World atmosphere.
But come Sunday, whatever Ryan thinks or Cromartie says, or whether the Patriots react, it isn’t going to matter much. In the end it doesn’t matter whether Brady hates the Jets or whether Cromartie is, or isn’t, inviting him to his next backyard BBQ.
Even Ryan admits that.
“It really doesn’t matter. You either win or you don’t. In this league, if you don’t win ... your season’s over,” Ryan said.
“To think that a comment here or there is going to incite them to play at a greater level or something like that, I don’t believe that’s true. It doesn’t matter what comes out of New England’s locker room or anybody else’s locker room, because you can’t be more motivated than we are, and you can’t be more motivated than New England is.”
Which is pretty much what Belichick and the Patriots have been saying (or, to be more precise: not saying).
“After the game, everybody will forget what was said this week and you’ll just know who won or lost, who’s moving on and who’s not,” Patriots’ safety Jarrad Page said.
So, the Jets and Patriots aren’t exactly meeting to hold hands at midfield for a chorus of Kumbahya, but it is refreshing to see we finally have something they can all agree on.