Rex Ryan called a personal timeout Saturday in order to attend his son’s first college football game and, this being Rex Ryan and the New York Jets being in a state of flux, he was greeted with a storm of criticism.
On the day of the deadline for reducing NFL rosters to 53 players, Ryan bolted from the Jets’ headquarters and headed for South Carolina, where the Tigers were playing Georgia and Ryan’s son, Seth, is a walk-on who was playing in his first college game.
Everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Tony Dungy has chipped in with an opinion after Ryan was criticized for his departure. “Family values? Why Is that bad?” Limbaugh said. “Why is that not allowed?”
Dungy, a former NFL coach, concurred. In an NBC conference call, he said Ryan deserves “a big round of applause” for taking a timeout to be a dad. “It made me feel good.”
The idea didn’t sit well with all of Ryan’s players. “[Rex has] got zero influence,” an unnamed source told the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. “[He] doesn’t care and he is letting everyone know. He just shows up for his check. … It’s a big [expletive] to all the players.”
Antonio Cromartie was fine with his coach’s decision.
“I would take advantage of the opportunity if my son was dressing in his first game,” Cromartie said. “I’m going, too. Family comes first. This [the Jets team] is a big family, but we have people in this office and this organization that can handle those things when Rex is not here.”
Ryan defended his decision to be a dad, saying that the decisions about the final roster had been made and he had spoken on “most of the guys” who were to be released on Friday.
“It’s not like I’m going to be able to go to another game,” Ryan said. “It just so happened that I could make that one: It was a night game. So that’s really what I did. I took advantage of it. It was great. I just played dad there for a day and it was a lot of fun.”