If there’s one thing New York Jets coach Rex Ryan knows how to do, it’s stir the pot.
Ryan has made Sunday’s Jets-New England Patriots playoff game must-see TV, and not because the matchup is so enticing (although it is). It’s all the smack talk that he’s generated.
Ryan called the game “personal” between him and Pats coach Bill Belichick. He has also suggested that quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t study the game as well as Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. Now the players have picked up on the pregame fireworks.
Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker made 11 “foot” references in a news conference Thursday, clearly an attempt to agitate Ryan, who was allegedly caught in some steamy foot-fetish videos with his wife. (Example: “He has good feet. He moves around really well,” he said about Darrelle Revis.)
Was that hitting below the belt? Well, Ryan handled it well on Friday, saying, “Anything goes. I can take it. I’m not going to comment on it, but I can take it.”
One of Ryan’s players, Bart Scott, stood up for his coach. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, according to Newsday. “Be very careful what you say about our coach. His (Welker’s) days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that.”
Not surprisingly, the league has stepped in. According to Newsday, Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, contacted some teams and warned them not to cross the line. In other words, keep the trash talk outside the lines.
Belichick has warned his players not to engage in pointless trash talk, so Welker wisely backed away when he was asked about Ryan’s response. And so did Belichick.
“Right now, my comments are just about the Jets, and that’s what we’re focused on,” Belichick said. “You would have to ask (Welker) about that.”
Of course, the comments aren’t restricted to Welker. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie made a few choice but unprintable things to say about Brady this week, and when given a chance to take them back, he didn’t.
Brady’s retort: “I’ve been called worse.”
All of which should make the game very interesting.