Ryan: Help me out if you don't mind
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Pick up the phone! Rex Ryan is calling, and he wants you.
The coach of the New York Jets is using a bit of unorthodox strategy for Sunday's game, recording a 70-second message that was sent to every season-ticket holder. His plea is simple: He wants their help in making life "miserable" for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
"Isn't that just something Rex would do?" defensive end Mike DeVito said Thursday. "He likes getting everybody riled up. I love stuff like that."
"This is definitely a first for me to hear something like that," nose tackle Kris Jenkins said with a big smile.
And a first for thousands of fans who either picked up the phone Wednesday and heard Ryan's voice or found the message light blinking on their answering machine.
With a big game against the Patriots, coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Brady coming up, the Jets kicked around the idea of having Ryan send a personal message to the faithful. When they mentioned it to him, he jumped at the chance.
It's not a bad idea, considering the Patriots have beaten the Jets eight straight times at the Meadowlands.
"Hey, this is Rex Ryan, the head coach of the New York Jets," the message began. "I just wanted to let you know how much we need you this week. You know, I've already admitted that, hey, the Patriots have a better head coach and they've got a better quarterback than us. But we're going to see who's got a better team."
Belichick and Brady, of course, have won three Super Bowls together, while Ryan has one victory as an NFL head coach with a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez.
"Again, I admit that I'm not as good as Belichick, but at the end of the game, I want to be 1-0 against him," Ryan said at the end. "So, help me out if you don't mind. That's my challenge, OK? Thank you. Bye."
The voicemail certainly sounded unscripted, with a couple of "uhhs" and pauses sprinkled throughout. A recording of it posted on YouTube had gotten nearly 1,000 hits in 24 hours, and snippets of the call have been played on radio and television sports shows around the country.
"I heard it on ESPN," right tackle Damien Woody said, laughing. "It's great, man, but that's Rex. He's just letting it be known that, 'Hey, we need everybody. Our players are going to be ready and we need our fans to be ready."
Ryan has been anything but a conventional head coach since being hired by the Jets in January. He has routinely made headline-grabbing comments about opposing coaches and players, and talked up his team.
With just one game -- a win -- under his belt, Ryan has already endeared himself to fans with a loose, regular-guy style -- the direct opposite of the coach he replaced, Eric Mangini.
"This is who I am every day," Ryan said. "I'm confident. Maybe that comes out in my personality."
"Got a lot of his dad in him, from that standpoint," Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
It's not the first time something like this has been done. Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher has also recorded messages for fans before big games. In 1995, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher was sent letters of reprimand by the NFL for begging fans to be rowdy at key games. He made the pleas during televised news conferences.
But the Jets have been a franchise seeking an identity for years, playing in a stadium named after the other team in the area. At a time when the Jets are still trying to sell personal seating licenses for their new stadium, which opens next year, Ryan is doing his part to drum up support.
"The man is just passionate about what he's trying to establish here," Woody said.
Granted, some teams have never had to do something like this.
Seattle is one of those teams, which celebrates its "12th Man" with a raised flag before each game.
On Sunday, the noise at Qwest Field was a factor in the St. Louis Rams committing several false start penalties in the Seahawks' 28-0 victory.
"We had third-and-1, third-and-6 and third-and-11 on one of their drives," first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "It's unbelievable. So we don't have to call our fans. They understand it."
Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp cracked up when he heard of Ryan's voicemail.
"That's funny!" he said. "Hey, whatever you've got to do to win."
As for the Jets, maybe the coach's call will make a difference.
"That's just the way football works as a whole. You want every advantage you can get in this game," Jenkins said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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