- Last Updated: 5:02 PM, September 23, 2010
- Posted: 3:58 AM, September 23, 2010
When Rex Ryan became the Jets head coach before the 2009 season, he worked to change the culture of the Jets with a hefty dose of bravado that on the outset seemed refreshing. He talked the downtrodden franchise into believing it was as good as anything in shoulder pads, if not better, and instilled a swagger that only has grown over time.
But like a weed that constantly is watered, that attitude of arrogance has grown to where the image of the head coach and the franchise is starting to suffer.
The arrest early Tuesday morning of wide receiver Braylon Edwards for DWI is the latest incident that makes the Jets look like the NFL’s version of “Guys Gone Wild.” From eating cheeseburgers in the middle of a practice to footballs being thrown in the direction of female reporter Ines Sainz to Ryan giving the finger to some Dolphins fans at an MMA event during the offseason, the Jets’ “Animal House” antics are solidifying a reputation of a coach and a team that live by their own rules.
Ryan, trying to play the part of Dean Wormer yesterday, declared, “I’m tired of the embarrassment to our owner and this organization, and let’s just end it, let’s stop it. Whatever it is, however severe or minor we don’t need to be that team.”
The Jets already are that team, the team the rest of the country sees as undisciplined and filled with more characters than character. Ryan, owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum are finding out they can’t have it both ways.
They want a team filled with a bravado that borders on arrogance with little regard to what other people think. They preach playing like a Jet, kicking butt and then talk about winning the Super Bowl when everyone else is just worrying about the next game. They signed players with substance abuse and anger management issues, and now they have been burned by Edwards, who already is on probation for punching someone outside a nightclub in Cleveland when he was with the Browns.
Ryan admitted yesterday he was “as guilty as anybody” for the Jets’ tarnished image. When pressed he pointed to the incident where he was photographed giving some hecklers the finger during an MMA event last January.
Nevertheless, Ryan called Edwards’ arrest “an isolated incident.”
“I think our football team has learned our lessons,” he said. “This incident that happened with Braylon serves [for] me, the other coaches and all the players in this organization that we have to be held accountable to each other.”
Ryan wants his team to be viewed as a club that has fun but works hard and is as disciplined as any in the league. But actions speak louder than words. And misdeeds speak the loudest. Over the last month, the Jets have made national news for all the wrong reasons. If image is everything, the Jets are going in the wrong direction.
Edwards will not start at Miami Sunday night, his punishment for endangering the lives of his passengers and anyone traveling near his car Tuesday morning. “Pending legal issues,” a term heard more yesterday than anything about the Dolphins, ultimately will decide his future availability.
Still, I doubt the Jets turn into choirboys any time soon. That’s not the culture Ryan has created.
Right tackle Damien Woody, normally a voice of reason, put it this way: “The easiest way to solve all this stuff is to go out and win football games.”
Who cares what anyone else thinks?