Namath has been extraordinarily frank when discussing Coach Rex Ryan, who has promised a Super Bowl victory but, unlike Namath, has not delivered one.
Namath was particularly critical of Ryan and the Jets’ preparation after the team lost 34-24 to the Raiders in Oakland and fell to 2-1.
“It starts at the top,” Namath said on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio. “Coach Rex Ryan I think has been doing a great job getting the team to two championship games. But if there’s one thing about the athlete, if you keep telling him how good he is, he’s going to start believing it, to the point that he may not be preparing not quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team.”
Ryan wasn’t having any of it Monday. His team faces the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore. “I’m not gonna change who I am because Joe Namath said something,” Ryan said. “Joe Namath can come in here, and if he can still throw, we’ll have him as a backup quarterback [he’s 68]. He doesn’t know our team. He’s on the outside. Even though he’s a Jet, and once you’re a Jet you’re always a Jet ... but he’s on the outside, he’s not in these meetings. I think if he was he’d be shocked at the preparation.
Mark Sanchez, the current Jets quarterback, jumped into the fray Tuesday.
“I want to be careful answering this one because, without a doubt, I respect Joe Namath to the fullest,” Sanchez said (via ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini) on the Kay show Tuesday. “I think he’s the most notable Jet of all time, the ultimate Jet. It’s rarefied air if you ever talk about Joe Namath, especially in this building.”
And then Sanchez went on, gingerly addressing the fight between Mom and Dad.
“I can understand why he’d criticize the team like that, and I kind of see where he’s coming from as an outsider perspective, but at the same time you have to understand: In this building, these guys prepare their tail off,” Sanchez said. “Sure, does Rex boast about our team and is he brash in his comments about our team? Of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way and that’s the way he is. But if you don’t do something right ... I wish ... I’m actually happy you weren’t in our team meeting after that game [Sunday]. He couldn’t be more upset and disappointed with our team and the way we performed. But it wasn’t a matter of preparation.”
And they say soap operas are dead.