Roderick Boone is a sports reporter covering the New York Jets. He began his Newsday career covering college
There was a definite need to try to change the culture surrounding the franchise, fighting out of the large shadow cast by the guys they consider the other team in town.
The Jets' newfound bold approach, spearheaded by Rex Ryan, was refreshing, especially because they were backing it up on the field with production. Two straight trips to the AFC Championship Game is a great accomplishment for any team, but for a franchise looking to give its fan base something to be proud of, it represented a seismic shift in its perception.
No longer were the Jets viewed as a bunch of pushovers, a franchise that hasn't done much to gain national recognition since Joe Namath jogged off the field after Super Bowl III with that index finger waving, as if to say, "Yeah, we're No. 1, and I told you so."
By beating their chests and proclaiming they weren't afraid of anybody, the Jets became the new bullies on the block, a welcome sight for starved fans tired of being ridiculed by their friends who are Giants fans, spoiled because their franchise has three Vince Lombardi trophies to show off. No team in recent memory, besides maybe the Ravens, had as many public trash talkers as the Jets, and no one had an uncensored coach like Ryan.
It was new. It was fun. It was candid.
But now, it has to stop.
Even though it probably wouldn't be popular for us in the media, because there wouldn't be as many juicy headlines or story lines, the Jets would be better served clamming up from here on out. Whether their season ends Sunday in Miami or they get an unbelievable amount of help and sneak into the postseason, it's all the same: Next year, they should adopt the old refrain Ryan threw out last week: "Talk is cheap, money buys whiskey."
If you combined both parts of that statement, the Jets should be punch drunk from how they've failed to deliver this season, not backing up Ryan's offseason boasts that this would be the year they finally would win the Super Bowl. You'd even think that being humbled by the Giants and knowing they are on the brink of watching the postseason from home would perhaps make Ryan think about cutting down on the braggadocio.
However, in light of his comments last week about longing to take over the city, Ryan gave no indication the other day that he's about to tone things down.
"That's who I am," he said. "So, do I regret it? No. Did it work out? Nope, it never worked out. But I'm not ever going to regret something I believe in my heart, and I've always said from Day One that I'm going to be true to myself. When I leave this job 15 years from now, I'm going to be true to myself.
"Maybe it's not the traditional way of doing things or whatever. But for me, this is who I am, this is how I believe. I made the statements and as I said before, I'll stand by everything I said. Did it work out? No, and I'll be the first one to say it never worked out. I'm responsible for that."
But how much longer will it be before people really stop taking Ryan seriously, almost automatically muting him when he starts making grandiose statements? The guess here is it's likely already begun, and a loss Sunday might again turn the Jets into a bit of a laughingstock around the league, this time for talking big and delivering little.
That's why if the Jets are smart, they'll tone down their act. Quickly. Before they really start alienating people.