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Rex passes on razzing Obama about Jets comments

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CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP)

Rex Ryan had no witty one-liners. No knee-slapping jokes. Not even a silly costume to punctuate the moment.

It turns out, the normally brash and bold coach is no trash talker when it comes to the president.

A day after President Barack Obama told an Ohio radio station that he is not a fan of Tim Tebow being on the Jets, Ryan resisted taking the expected humorous swipe.

''You know what's funny? I really think that it shows how popular our game really is,'' Ryan said after training camp practice Friday. ''I mean, every single person has an opinion, and it seems like they have an opinion on our football team or whatever. It's amazing. This is the president of the greatest country there is, and he's talking about the New York Jets football team and things.''

And then, just when a couple dozen eager reporters were certain a zinger was coming, Ryan passed on taking the bait.

''I'll say this,'' Ryan said, ''I respect President Obama and I respect the fact that this is his opinion.''

Wait. That's it? From the guy who has guaranteed Super Bowls and said shortly after he was hired in 2009 that the team would soon meet the president.

''That's it,'' Ryan said with a big grin. ''I'm not taking that layup.''

But, it might get a little uncomfortable when the two meet up at the White House in, say, February.

''Don't get going with the president comments,'' Ryan said, laughing. ''You know me.''

During a campaign event in Ohio on Thursday, Obama told 97.1 The Fan in Columbus that ''I don't like the idea of a quarterback controversy at the start of a season.''

The Jets (No. 17 in the AP Pro32) have insisted, of course, that Mark Sanchez is their unquestioned starting quarterback and Tebow, acquired from Denver in March, will serve as the backup but with a large role in the offense.

Obama said ''Sanchez is not Tom Brady yet, but he led them to the playoffs two years in a row.'' He added that Tebow ''seems to be a wonderful young man,'' and ''really steps up when things count.'' But he warns that ''there's going to be a lot of tension in that situation.''

Most of the Jets players laughed off Obama's comments, as did general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

''I appreciate the fact that the president is so interested in our team,'' Tannenbaum said, ''and he's certainly entitled to his opinion.''

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie didn't understand what the big deal was.

''We don't have a two-quarterback system,'' Cromartie said. ''We've got a one-quarterback system, and that's with Mark. So, no, the Jets fans shouldn't be worried at all.''

Added left guard Matt Slauson: ''He doesn't play football for the Jets.''

So, you're not voting for Obama in November, huh? ''No comment,'' Slauson said with a smile.

As for all the talk by some fans and media - and now, even the president - about how having Tebow could cause some problems down the line, Ryan isn't buying it. If anything, he said, it makes the Jets even better.

''We have a starting quarterback who's as clear-cut a starting quarterback as other teams,'' Ryan said. ''Mark Sanchez is our starting quarterback, but we have an athlete and a special talent in Tim Tebow that allows us to do different things that maybe other teams don't. We're going to play Tim Tebow because it helps us. It's going to help our football team win games. That's how I feel.''

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Follow Dennis Waszak on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DWAZ73

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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Tagged: Jets, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

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