Can Rex Ryan get into trouble in Bristol, Conn. on a Saturday night?
The Free World will find out in a few months when Ryan begins spending his Sunday mornings as an analyst in ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” studio. Considering the Ryan brothers’ recent fandango, featuring minor scuffling and drink tossing in a Nashville bar, we wonder if the ESPN Faculty wishes it had put a Saturday night curfew clause in Rex’s contract.
You may now be asking how can anyone get in trouble in a sleepy burg like Bristol. Considering his history, Ryan can find a way. Ryan and his mouth have a knack for attracting confrontation. Ironically, ESPN suits are paying Ryan for his ability to stir the pot. Yet it is the yap-flapping, mixed with a few cocktails, which has led to some uncomfortable moments (and that’s being kind) for Ryan.
The buffoon/bully look is not a good one for Rex.
Considering its history of hiring former players and coaches with “questionable” pasts (like Ray Lewis, who warmed a seat in ESPN’s NFL studio for a couple of years) hiring Ryan, an entertaining blowhard, is no biggie. Still, if the Faculty did not consider the (further) embarrassment Ryan could bring to the network they are in denial.
This is the first time in years, perhaps in his adult life, Ryan is not on the rigid schedule of a football coach. Ryan has time on his hands. That can’t be a good thing. Unless ESPN has him cranking it out Monday-Friday (which is a distinct possibility) chances are someone with a smartphone will chronicle Ryan doing something goofy, something that will need to be reported on SportsCenter, or briefly discussed on the “Countdown” show.
This could severely impact Ryan’s credibility as an analyst. If incidents like the Nashville dustup should become more frequent, Ryan will not be taken seriously. Already he’s not the most popular guy for his ability to make himself the focus of the team he is coaching. He has made a habit of not cashing the checks his mouth writes.
While he’s been hailed as a natural for TV, with the potential to become a star, TV won’t be easy for him. Ryan must find a way to not lose his edge, not self-muzzle, while at the same time display a self-deprecating style, which will appeal to all the eyeballs watching him. He must be able to engage in verbal confrontation with his colleagues, without losing it or coming off judgmental.
Ryan must come off as everyman.
Staying out of trouble might be a lot easier.
It was no surprise Valley of the Stupid Gasbags were going gaga after the date was set for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor made-for-TV matchup. The first thing the promoters of this “rumble” were counting on was the free promotion the VOS would give it.
Although these brainiacs are predicting the encounter will break all PPV records, we’re not so sure. Hardcore boxing fans have already been taken to the cleaners, paying a high fee only to see Mayweather waltz to a 12-round decision with little or no action. Unless you are a devotee of freak shows, why waste money on a “fight” that will likely be replayed for free on Showtime. So, it may be left to the casual fan, combined with the MMA crowd, to plunk down the moolah.
Yet there is already a big winner — UFC boss Dana White. He may have bit his tongue before giving control of the promotion to Mayweather’s promotional company and Showtime, which also has the exclusive PPV distribution rights, but he won’t have to be responsible for any of the backlash, or other headaches, that will come with a “fight” that has more chance of being a fiasco than a brilliant night of competitive boxing.
YANKS LOVE THE POPE
One brick in the road to Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa’s alleged retirement from WFAN is pinstriped.
MLB sources say the Yankees are concerned with Francesa’s departure because of his role as a long-time Bombers pom-pom waver. Simply put, WFAN is the radio home of the Yankees and Francesa, more than anyone else at the station, talks a lot of Yankee baseball.
The majority of other FAN Gasbags (including Joe Benigno, Evan Roberts, Norman Julius Esiason, Steve Somers) are Mets loyalists. And anecdotal evidence suggests there is more Mets talk than Yankees chatter on FAN.
With their partnership with FAN being worth millions, in terms of rights fee payments, it makes sense for Yankees suits to want the new afternoon drive host (if there is one) to have an allegiance to the Bombers or, at least, a Yankees sensibility. Without such a mouth, afternoon drive won’t have the kind of Yankees filiblusters, or promotion, His Holiness produced.
Still, there is no way the Yankees suits can influence FAN’s decision.
Or can they?
THE OBJ EFFECT
Only Odell Beckham Jr. could cause two buddies — Francesa (anti-OBJ) and NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones (pro-OBJ) — to mix it up on the radio.
Nice stuff. Yet the bigger takeaway from OBJ’s return to Jersey is his ability to provide cover for all his teammates and any budding controversy. Were there any reports concerning developments in Eli Manning’s memorabilia scandal? Not when OBJ is using his sneakers to send his own message to the media.
Olivier Vernon? With OBJ providing cover, Vernon’s absence from OTAs was not even an issue. Hey, the only Giant to break through the OBJ media machine was Ben McAdoo. And it wasn’t anything he said, it was his new hairstyle.
Strange days (and haircut), indeed.
Networks and other outlets covering baseball have come up with goo-gobs of technological innovations over the years. Yet, all the glitz and gizmos have never made it easier for the broadcasters to turn a blowout into an entertaining production.
SportsNet New York, in its early years, came up with a goodie when Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen took telephone calls from fans watching the game.
Now SNY, courtesy of Gregg Picker, the Senior Coordinating Producer of Mets telecasts, has come up with another one used again Tuesday night during the Cubs’ 14-3 rout of the Mets.
The broadcast crew dug under the desk and brought out a huge box of baseball cards. They randomly picked a card and discussed the player. So, among others, viewers got commentary on Skip Lockwood, Doug Rader, and Enzo Hernandez, whom Darling swore had something to do with “Enzo the Baker” of Godfather fame.
Congratulations to ESPN/ABC and the NBA for averaging 20.406 million viewers for the five-game Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals. The ESPN advertising sales department must be happy because it can base 2018 advertising rates on that number. And just think: Since the same two teams will be playing in the 2018 Finals they can use the same sales pitch. Good luck with that… Got to give Hernandez props for showing up in the SNY Mets booth so quickly after partial knee surgery. And he’s hardly whined at all during the telecasts. Amazing! … Two Gasbags who clearly can’t stand each other, Sal Licata and Pete McCarthy, will be teaming up again for extended pregame shows in the WOR Sports Zone while the Mets are on the West Coast this week. We can only hope their tension convention continues.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: HOWIE ROSE
To this point his signature call is the “Matteau….Matteau” riff he delivered when the Rangers eliminated New Jersey during the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs. Yet Rose, the radio voice of the Mets, may have actually topped that moment by working the Yiddish word “Meshugas” (it means nonsense or crazy) into his Cubs-Mets descriptions last week. Rose referred to Yoenis Cespedes’ body armor as “All the MESHUGAS Cespedes has going.” With this linguistic feat now accomplished, perhaps Rose will voice his disapproval of a managerial move by calling said skipper a “mashugana.”
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: YASIEL PUIG
Speaking of mashuganas, what’s up with this cat? After ripping a two-run homer in the second inning Tuesday against Cleveland, Puig circled the bases, crossed the plate, and as he trotted towards the dugout flipped double middle fingers to the crowd. Lovely. Was Puig taking a page from the book of Mr. Met? Was he channeling his inner Jack McDowell, who shot the bird to Yankees fans after being pulled from the mound? Doubt it on both counts. This was just Puig being Puig—again.
What Todd Bowles said: “Even when you go to kindergarten, somebody’s got to be the teacher.”
What Todd Bowles meant to say: “If things get really bad I can always rollout the milk & cookies.”