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 not.''
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 scoreboard.''
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org