Rex Ryan hates being called a liar.
But that’s essentially what former Baltimore coach-turned-NFL analyst Brian Billick did Thursday on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show.
“Of course Rex knew about this,” Billick said, referring to the “Tripgate” scandal involving Jets head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi. “Players crowding the sideline, a gunner running down the sideline, has always been an issue. And I think what you’re going to see with the league is the proverbial, ‘we have a rule in place -- it is going to be enforced.’ Yeah, it was orchestrated, there's no question about it. That's a part of the gamesmanship, except it was taken too far with regards to the player's safety on the sideline."
Ryan responded to those comments in his Friday press conference, saying: “I wish he would have asked me. I would have told him the truth. I think he made an assumption there, but he’s wrong.”
The Jets insisted Alosi acted alone when he instructed players to form a wall on the sideline to obstruct gunners during Jets’ punt returns. At least two players – Jeff Cumberland and Marcus Dixon – corroborated the organization’s story, telling reporters this week that Alosi had instructed them to form a wall since the beginning of the season.
Nevertheless, there’s growing sentiment that Ryan and/or special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff were somehow involved – a claim both coaches have vehemently denied.
“The facts are the facts,” Ryan said. “I never knew so it’s easy for me to stand up here and tell you that. I’m not a guy that lies about anything. I’m just speaking the truth. If that amazes people or whatever, it amazes people. The fact that I was standing there and [Nolan Carroll] fell by me, I said that day one. I also said that I [waved over to the medical staff] trying to get the guy over.”
The Jets coach said he spoke to team owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum upon their return from the owners’ meetings in Dallas, but didn’t share what was said. A team spokesman said Johnson will address reporters next week.