Rex Ryan and his boys—which I think is a fair way to describe the tightly knit and boisterous family that is the New York Jets—have stepped into an array of off-the-field distractions. Substance-related arrests? Check. Substance-related suspension? Check. Antonio Cromartie? Check. Misogyny-related burns? Check, check, and Brett. The Jets began the year under criticism from all sorts of people—most notably the hallowed Tony Dungy—for the fact that they were just plain loud.
On-field difficulties have begun to crop up, too. Brian Schottenheimer’s vacillation between a high-school-football game plan (run the ball up the middle, then a pitch play, then a run up the middle) and a Madden 2011–style bombfest has put a dent in the team’s ability to consistently string drives together. Mark Sanchez’s on-field petulance, combined with receivers’ ugly drops and suspect pass blocking from a depleted offensive line that was called one of the best under a year ago, have made the Jets’ offense unbearable to watch.
Even the Jets’ D, which remains one of the best in the league, had an embarrassing day against the Patriots three weeks ago, and didn’t look great against the Steelers and Bears, either. The loss of coach-on-the-field Jim Leonhard hurt, too.
Now Rex Ryan is taking heat for something that’s actually kind of sweet: he is madly, and a little kinkily, in love with his wife. Last Tuesday, Deadspin came up with a doozy of a distraction: videos of Michelle Ryan or her doppelganger showcasing her beautiful feet and a cameraman who sounds like Rex, especially his signature “Awww, well.”
Is it the Ryans in the video? It’s gotta be. The Wednesday news conference was the pudding, and Rex’s clamming up like never before was the proof. If it’s not him, Rex would guffaw, scratch the back of his head, and offer an alibi. Instead we got an uncharacteristically terse “It’s a personal matter.”
While it is personal, there really isn’t anything wrong with it, either. Rex Ryan is just a sweet, loving guy. We watched him and his brother ham it up, and we watched him cry last year when he thought he wasn’t going to make the playoffs. We’ve watched him win games, and we’ve watched him blow games. He is always approachable; he gives the media what they want. When the team sucks like it did against New England, he faced up and explained it. When they sucked in a totally different way against Miami, he didn’t back away. New York hasn’t overwhelmed the small-town football boy from Ardmore, Oklahoma. Now something quite private and possibly weird—but essentially healthy and affectionate—has surfaced, and we see an entirely different side of the big man in green.
Earlier this month, Rex compared himself to Tom Brady, saying, “I’m also married to a supermodel.” Rex is a good soul. He likes to make his wife happy, and—even when she doesn’t ask for it—he tells the public that she’s just as beautiful as Gisele Bundchen. (It seems his marriage is in better shape than some other NFL players’.)
Some men won’t admit it, but we spend far too much time looking at much more mature content online. These videos, which the Ryans deactivated years ago, are really pretty tame—and adorable in their own way.
Rex Ryan is a man simply trying to do his best after getting the opportunity of a lifetime—to coach an NFL team. He’s a good husband who respects and loves his wife. For a man whose father was one of the best coaches in NFL history, it must be hard to deal with something like this. The media fished some racy e-trash out of the Ryans’ e-garage. Is it their business? That’s a discussion for another day, but what matters is this: Rex Ryan is a good man. And his videos are nothing but the sweet product of a lasting marriage.