At least Rex comes by his chutzpah honestly

Lots of people would like to tell Rex Ryan and the Jets to shut

up. Not his daddy. The patriarch of the trash-talking coaching clan

says there are worse things than speaking your mind, no matter how

much bulletin board material gets spewed.

”Guys get themselves ready to play all kinds of different

ways,” Buddy Ryan chuckled over the phone Thursday from his horse

farm in Kentucky. ”And the way I see it, talking is a hell of a

lot better than puking.”

Buddy has been out of the business for 15 years. He hasn’t

tasted crow in a long time.

”The only drawback,” Ryan recalled ruefully a moment later,

”is you better be able to back it up.”

No word yet on whether the floor-cleaning crew at the Jets

practice facility has been unusually busy ahead of this weekend’s

playoff matchup against the AFC rival Patriots at New England. But

the occupants of the locker room certainly have done plenty of

talking, beginning with Buddy’s boy himself.

”This is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan,” New York’s brash

coach said Monday, to the surprise of exactly no one. ”There’s no

question. It’s personal.”

Maybe so, but nowhere near as personal as the expletive Jets

cornerback Antonio Cromartie threw Tom Brady’s way soon after.

Cromartie explained he’s long been unhappy about the way Brady

punctuates his touchdown passes on occasions – by pointing at the

opposing sideline – and said further that he wasn’t the only

defender in the NFL who felt that way.

Then he doubled down by daring New England’s all-world

quarterback to throw in his direction.

”I hope so, I really do,” Cromartie said. ”I hope he throws

the ball 10 times my way. Make him pay.”

Brady’s comeback to the original insult wasn’t bad. ”I’ve been

called worse,” he said. Nor is it likely to be his final word on

Cromartie in particular and the Jets in-your-face motivational

ploys in general.

”We’ll see on Sunday night at 7:30,” Brady said. ”That’s when

everybody will be able to tell whether it played a role or


It’s worth noting here that Rex Ryan comes by his chutzpah

honestly. He and twin brother, Rob, the defensive coordinator for

the Cleveland Browns, trailed along in Buddy’s wake while he worked

as an assistant or head coach in a half-dozen NFL towns. The old

man defined swagger. They rarely saw him hold his tongue.

”Here’s the funny thing on that,” Buddy said. ”Everybody

thinks I had something to do with it when the ’85 Bears made that

‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ thing. It was ‘Buddy told ’em this, Buddy told

’em that.’ But I didn’t even know they were making it.”

So he would have stopped them?

”Hell, no,” Buddy replied. ”Wouldn’t have made a difference

anyway. … But if you want a bunch that could talk the talk AND

walk the walk, it was that one.”

Therein lies the problem. Few teams can back up their bravado

that way. Talk first, lose later and you’ve practically engraved

the invitation for a snappy comeback. Former receiver and current

TV analyst Shannon Sharpe had several, though his best might have

come at the expense of the Colts defense.

”Home Depot doesn’t sell enough nails and plywood to fix what’s

wrong with that,” is how he put it.

Just as original and classier still was the one authored by Hall

of Fame hockey goalie Patrick Roy. He said he never even heard

trash-talking because every time he cupped his hands behind his

ears to listen, all those Stanley Cup rings on his fingers made it

impossible to hear.

Even better, though, might be the one authored by flamboyant

former cornerback and current NFL Network analyst ”Neon” Deion

Sanders. The man who spent as much time giving smack as he did

receiving it intercepted a pass and then found himself at the

bottom of the pile as his San Francisco 49ers were close to

wrapping up their 1995 Super Bowl win over the Chargers.

Yelling in his ear was San Diego’s Ronnie Harmon, hurling

insults and challenging him to a fight. Instead of responding with

his usual flair, Sanders stood up, dusted himself off and simply

pointed at the horizon.

”Man,” he whispered to Harmon, ”you need to look up at that


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated

Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)