- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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"Hell, he knows we hate the Patriots, so what's the difference?" Jets coach Rex Ryan said in response Monday. "That's great. Hey, join the club."
The Patriots quarterback made the comment to Boston sports radio station WEEI when asked whether he was watching HBO's "Hard Knocks."
"Honestly, I haven't turned it on," Brady said. "I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show. I'm sure it's great TV. I'm glad people are liking it. But that's just something that I have no interest in watching. I'd love to say a lot of mean things, but I'd rather not do that, either."
Ryan isn't a big fan of Brady or the team that has dominated the AFC East, a status that seems threatened by the Jets' addition of key veterans in the offseason.
"My brother's got a couple of Super Bowl rings," the coach said with a smile. "He loves Tom Brady, but I don't have them, so I don't like Tom Brady. I respect him, but I don't like him."
Ryan's brother, Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, was an assistant with the Patriots. Rex took over the Jets last season from Eric Mangini, the former defensive coordinator for New England and a near clone of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick when it comes to bland, non-provocative comments.
The third show of the five-episode "Hard Knocks" series airs Wednesday. Last year's featured team was the Cincinnati Bengals.
The reactions of Jets players to Brady's statement have been mostly low key. His comments didn't surprise Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.
"Tom has always hated the Jets," Cotchery said. "We've pulled up clips a long time ago, even before Rex got here, with Tom saying things at banquets and all that. He's always hated the Jets, so I expected to hear that from him."
Center Nick Mangold said he hadn't watched the show with any regularity before the Jets were featured, and he could see how an AFC East player might not want to see a nemesis glorified.
"It's part of the excitement of games. You dislike the other team," Mangold said. "'Hard Knocks,' we never had it with anybody in our division I don't expect him to be sitting there with a bowl of popcorn enjoying the show every Wednesday."
In fact, no one in the Jets' locker room popped off about the comment. Instead, everyone seemed to think it was about right that Brady should have that sentiment, even if the word "hate" sounds pretty strong.
"Maybe it is true hatred," tight end Dustin Keller said. "I don't know."
Jason Taylor, who spent years mocking Jets fans and getting booed by them while a member of the Miami Dolphins, smiled when he heard that he might be supplanted in the Jets fans' dog house by Brady.
"They're supposed to hate the Jets -- they're the Patriots," Taylor said. "Just like the Dolphins are supposed to."
And he isn't watching the show either, albeit for a different reason.
"I don't think we should watch it. I think it changes the way you act the next week," Taylor said.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who came over from the Cleveland Browns last season, said free agency has changed the nature of hard-core intradivisional rivalries like this one. Just as Taylor ended up implausibly in green and white, and Donovan McNabb ended up with the Washington Redskins after the Philadelphia Eagles, Edwards said Brady could theoretically play quarterback for the Jets some day.
"A team he quote-unquote hated, he's the starting quarterback for," Edwards said.
Last week on "Hard Knocks" when Ryan wanted to start a fight on the field to stir up linebacker Vernon Gholston, he went to offensive lineman Rob Turner. Turner is never one to back down, and he was asked whether Brady's words would be worth a scrap when the Jets and Patriots play again.
"Aww," Turner said, "Brady wouldn't fight me. I'd break his jaw."
But that was as bold as any of the Jets got. Mostly players just recognized that hating the Jets is part of Brady's job description.
"I can understand why he'd say that and I don't have a problem with that," Edwards said. "He doesn't like the Jets? That's fine; a lot of people in here don't like the Patriots."
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