Rex Ryan's tattoo an exercise in the overblown
By Dave D'Alessandro/Star-Ledger Columnist
on January 05, 2013 at 12:03 AM
This case called for someone much smarter than anybody around here, so you got the first call.
"Sure, whatís up?" said the sports psychologist, who did not want to be named.
You havenít seen it yet, being at that symposium all morning, but the news of the day is a tabloid photo of Rex Ryanís biceps, and on it is a tattoo of his leggy wife wearing a No. 6 Jets jersey.
"Okay, nice. But why would she be wearing a Bubby Brister jersey?"
No, no ó itís probably a Mark Sanchez jersey. And you donít know the half of it, Doc: On his other arm, thereís a tattoo of a naked Weeb Ewbank.
No, not really. But either way, itís a colossal story, and since youíve worked with pro athletes for 30-something years and can illuminate issues related to football and psychology ó especially with regard to matters such as, ĎWhy the hell does anyone watch the Jets?í ó you have to explain why this might have any relevance to our lives.
"Tattoo, huh? Of his wife in a jersey? Well, then my first reaction is, ĎGee, Rex is really an erotic guy.í "
You call that a learned medical opinion?
"No, my learned medical opinion is this: Why the heck are you bothering me with this? Iím meeting with doctors from around the country working on establishing educational standards for sports psychology specialization, and youíre giving me half-naked women on NFL biceps."
Maybe what we need to establish is whether there is any psychological determination of whether this coach is expressing the same depth of fidelity to an employee as he has toward his wife?
"Just by slapping some green ink on his arm? Youíre kidding again, right? Got any Kotite jokes?"
So thatís a no.
"How can anyone know that? No doubt your media friends will speculate about it, but it probably says more about his wife than him. She probably had as much say in it being a Sanchez jersey as he did, and since Rex loves her, he complied. End quote. Can I go now?"
The media seems pretty creeped out by this, Doc. One paper called it kinky. Somehow they think a tattoo is creepier than the notion of a paparazzo pursuing a picture of a topless Rex Ryan on a beach.
"And you wonder why Instagram now has a higher value than the New York Times. Look, sometimes a tattoo is just a tattoo. Itís part of the sports culture. Every athlete of every shape and size is getting tatted up. And when you have a guy like Rex ó who tends to be more of a playersí coach, as opposed to Shanahan or Coughlin ó this is his way of being one of the guys. We know he talks a lot of trash, and is very enamored of himself, so maybe this speaks more to his impulsivity."
See, thatís why you got the call. That was really, you know, psychic.
"When you talk like that, you trigger my psychomotor agitation."
Oh, then maybe you should also address whether it says something about their marriage: The media seems to believe that these two are as wacky as Carrie and Brody of "Homeland," just one bad day away from blowing up a federal building.
"Then you should probably stop indulging your friends in the media and stick to less fictional forms of entertainment, like ĎHomeland.í Again, itís a tattoo. Thereís nothing creepy about a tattoo, unless the media decides it suits some specific purpose."
But what about how the players feel about it? They might get the impression that Rex plays favorites.
"Oh, right ó like the other players havenít already figured out that Rex is shackled to Sanchez as he plunges toward career suicide."
Then all the self-righteous mewling about how this will play in the locker room ...
"Is a cause of some embarrassment, but probably irrelevant. Itís pretty hard to hide a tattoo ó the players probably have known about it all year, and figured heís just identifying with his quarterback. Or maybe he figured itís the Jetsí most visible image. It could have been the right tackleís number. Or he could have chosen the punter ó that guy had more TV time than anybody, since this team couldnít get arrested in the end zone."
So youíre saying this will go away as quickly as the foot video episode?
"What Iím saying is, if their owner takes his direction from media reaction, anything can happen. But just tell me this: Can the guy coach?"
Well, he can coach defense.
"How do you know?"
That playoff game in Foxborough two years back. He scrapped everything he believes in ó pressure, pressure, pressure ó because he knew that Brady would eat him alive by 45-3 again. So he rushed three and dropped eight, rushed two and dropped nine, and kicked Belichickís butt. I donít care much for football, but I do know that in the history of the NFL, the coach who has a new idea and can execute it always wins. And that day he proved to be a bloody genius.
"So whatís changed since then?"
His offense stinks.
The media flipped on him, turning him more into a cartoonish loudmouth than a football savant, though you could argue he was both all along.
"Yeah, people are complicated. Thatís my learned opinion."