Ryan calls Murrell, Ihedigbo 'selfish'

Updated: October 22, 2009, 8:08 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rex Ryan wants his team to be tough, not dirty.

The New York Jets coach benched safety James Ihedigbo and linebacker Marques Murrell for the their next game because he thought they took things too far by throwing punches at Buffalo's Derek Fine during a 16-13 overtime loss last weekend.

"Quite honestly, that's not the way we're going to play football," Ryan said Thursday, speaking for the first time about his decision. "We want to be the most physical team in the National Football League within the confinements of the rules.

"What they did was selfish, I thought."

Ihedigbo and Murrell each were fined $5,000 by the NFL for their actions Sunday, and Ryan plans to make both players inactive for New York's game at Oakland.

"This is best for our team that these two understand that we're not going to tolerate it and our football team understands that's not how we play football," Ryan said. "That's not being tough. That's not being physical, the kind of physical play that I want. There's no excuse for it and the two young men know that."

Ihedigbo was blocking on the opening kickoff of overtime in the 16-13 loss when Murrell knocked Fine's helmet off and struck him in an eye. Ihedigbo took a swing at the Bills tight end, was assessed a personal foul penalty and ejected.

"After going back and looking at the tape, I clearly lost control for that split-second and I made a decision that I regretted and I apologized for," Ihedigbo said. "It's uncharacteristic of me and the kind of person I am and the kind of player I am."

Ihedigbo said he didn't realize he had thrown a punch until he watched it on replay after the game.

"I looked at it and was like, 'Whoa. Did I really do that?'" Ihedigbo said.

Ryan has given his players the freedom to speak freely in the media since taking over as coach in January, but has made it clear he won't tolerate any actions that he deems as selfish.

"They got carried away," Ryan said. "Both of them took a swing at a guy. The guy was swinging and was hitting our guys at the same time, but still there's no excuse to throw a punch at somebody. I'm just not going to have that on our team, and that's it. This is a tough lesson for our team, but it's one I think we have to do."

Ryan benched David Clowney earlier this season after the wide receiver's practice habits were slipping and he complained on Twitter about his playing time.

"I wanted to do what I thought was fair," Ryan said. "It's a punishment not going to a game, but it also hurts our team. The same thing with David, sometimes you have to weigh what's best for the team."

Ihedigbo spoke with Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff about it, and he later apologized to the coaches, his teammates and his mother.

"When actions like that take place like they did Sunday, it kind of made them wonder and made me wonder," he said. "You move forward. I made a mistake, I know I made a mistake. It's something you'll never see happen again from me as a player."

Kicker Jay Feely, whose locker is next to Ihedigbo's, put a humorous spin on it.

"He'll be fighting Floyd Mayweather next week," he said with a laugh.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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