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Jets' season tough on broadcaster Marty Lyons, too

Former Jets defensive tackle and Jets radio analyst

Former Jets defensive tackle and Jets radio analyst Marty Lyons speaks during his Ring of Honor ceremony at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 13, 2013. Photo Credit: Jets

Sure, this is a difficult time to be with the Jets, even for a guy holding a microphone rather than an offensive guard's jersey. But it could always be worse, and was.

You think asking Rex Ryan the first question of every postgame news conference is tough for Marty Lyons at 2-11?

Child's play compared to this:

"Well, I did the TV show with Richie Kotite when he was 1-11 [in 1996, when they finished 1-15], 3-13 [in 1995], and it was a challenge to try to find something positive every week," Lyons said, allowing himself a laugh after two decades of healing.

That was back on MSG's old "Jets Journal'' show, Lyons' media gig between playing for the Jets from 1979-89 and serving as their radio analyst since 2002 alongside Bob Wischusen.

It has been quite a 35-year association with the team, during which he became a New York Sack Exchange pillar, businessman, philanthropist, Ring of Honor inductee and Long Islander (he lives in Smithtown).

Now this. Entering Sunday's game against the Titans, many Jets fans are rooting for a loss to remain in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

"It's been tough on us," Lyons said Tuesday at an event to promote Steiner Sports' new line of handwritten essays by athletes over pictures from their past. (Lyons' is from his days at Alabama, not as a Jet.)

"I think it's tough on the players, tough on the coaches, management. Everybody wants to win. But you want to be honest as a broadcaster, so you have to really paint the picture of what you see. Sometimes it's not pretty."

Lyons does not have the same reputation for blunt criticism as did his predecessor, the late Dave Jennings, or even his Giants counterpart, Carl Banks. He said his goal is to critique while at the same time being "respectful."

"I know how hard it is," he said. "I know what these players are going through . . . I know they're saying, 'Hey, let's keep fighting,' and in the back of their mind they are also hoping, 'Let's keep fighting, let's try to win, but I don't want to get hurt.' "

Ryan is the Jets' 10th coach since Lyons arrived as the 14th pick in the 1979 draft, so he has seen them come and go. But even with a quote machine such as Ryan at the podium, Lyons is starting to wonder what is left to ask.

"You get repetitious with your questions in the press room," he said. " 'Well, Rex, what did you do this week? What happened this week?' I think Rex did his best coaching job last year going 8-8 because it wasn't really an 8-8 team."

Lyons, 57, also finds himself asking players young enough to be his sons what went wrong, week after week.

"You go in the locker room and you're the first ones in there and you're asking the players to talk to you, they have to have a clear understanding that what you're saying is truthful," he said, "that what you're saying is not meaning any disrespect. But that's my job."

Ryan and GM John Idzik invited Lyons to address the rookies before last season. He urged them to accept the responsibility for their positions on the team and in the community, and to value their media forum.

"If you're just a name a number, you're disposable,'' he said.

Eventually, of course, only production can save a player, coach or GM, so there likely will be a housecleaning after the season. "You have to win, and when you don't win, faces change,'' he said.

Lyons doesn't figure to be going anywhere, though.

"I feel blessed that God has given me an opportunity to sit on the greatest stage in the world and be affiliated with an organization that I think is one of the best in professional football or in professional sports,'' he said.

Lyons was one of the few players to live on Long Island during offseasons in the 1980s, in part because by leaving town, "you don't get a chance to meet the crowd, meet the fans, the people who are frustrated."

Along the way, he started the Marty Lyons Foundation in 1982. So far it has helped more than 7,000 children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses fulfill wishes.

He also worked for Paine Webber in the late 1990s, and since 2000 has been an executive with Amityville-based LandTek Group, which builds and designs athletic facilities and other projects.

The oldest of his four children, Rocky, is a doctor in Alabama and two others currently are students at his alma mater. Lyons said there is no place like home, and for him that remains Tuscaloosa.

Still, after all these years, "I feel like a Long Islander. I feel like a New York Jet."

Some seasons that is easier than others.

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