Here's a shocker: Rex Ryan doesn't care what you think.
And he's not afraid to tell you so. Again.
Last week with reporters, the Jets coach dismissed the "circus" perception permeating from Florham Park, refusing to believe there was any merit to it. But even though he wasn't buying the out-of-control description of his players (a persona owner Woody Johnson believes simply is a media ploy to sell papers), the Jets coach still felt it necessary to shoot it down once and for all in front of his guys.
"It seems like that's how people look at us -- you could think that all you want, but we see something totally different," Ryan said Monday. "I do. And I know this football team does. When I said that our opponents will take us seriously, I promise you that. And they will."
To be fair, there have been several instances during Ryan's brief tenure that have helped drive the assumption that Atlantic Health Center is/was a frat house meeting ground. In 2010 alone, the team generated more news off the field than on it, thanks to several memorable PR disasters:
* Ryan flipped the bird to Miami MMA fans in the offseason -- a move that cost him $50,000.
* Brett Favre's gratuitous camera-phone shots (of his special friend) and text messages to a former team sideline reporter were leaked on the internet, resulting in a league investigation.
* The Ines Sainz debacle.
* The Braylon Edwards DWI.
* Two words: Sal Alosi.
* And an alleged foot fetish tape.
(In the Jets' defense, those incidents are two years old.)
Rex set out this past weekend to prove a point to his players -- namely that public perception means nothing in the game of football.
"We know what we have," he said. "This is a hard-working football team. We go to work every day to try to get better on the practice field, they compete hard against each other. And the time that we spend in the classroom, and everything else -- whatever the persona is, we're a football team. And that's what we're going to prove each week."
Linebacker Calvin Pace admitted after Sunday's game that he and his teammates took some things that were said, on air and in print, personally. "And we used it as motivation," he quickly added.
Pace took the greatest exception to pundits not picking the Jets in their preseason playoff/Super Bowl polls. But the linebacker laughed off the perceived slight.
"I guess that's what the experts get paid to do -- to pick who they think will win," he said. "Hopefully they'll ride with us next week."