Rex Ryan is fake interesting. Phil Jackson is compelling, in every real sense of the word.
That’s the difference between the Jets’ coach who will just not exit the stage and the Lakers’ coach who is walking away — for now, at least — after another classic news conference.
Jackson is almost more fascinating when he loses. Ryan, as shown in the endless promotion for his new book, is only riveting when playing the bully, boasting about what the Jets are going to do. Someday soon. No, any day now. No … well, just you wait.
More and more, Ryan is emerging as nothing but a cartoon character. To his credit, he’s learned cartoons play well in the minds of the average NFL player. Much of Ryan’s motivational “genius” can be traced to ploys that would be embraced in the ultimate fighter arena he loves so much.
Yet, it also seems like there is less and less substance behind the Jets’ coach the more he reveals.
No one expected “Play Like You Mean It” to earn Ryan a job on Obama’s cabinet. But even in the shallow world of sports books, the tone is almost embarrassingly devoid of any deep thoughts. Heck, it’s lacking in even interesting thoughts. Unless you think casting Tom Brady as the most hated man in America because his wife is hot is groundbreaking stuff.
“Look at his life. Actually look at his wife,” Ryan actually writes (or is crediting with writing) in his masterpiece. “America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that.”
Really Rex? That’s the best you can come up with on the face of your team’s most hated rival? It makes you wonder who gave a junior high kid who loves wedgies a book contract.
Then, there’s Phil Jackson dropping a Nixon reference in his farewell — to get in one last final, subtle dig at David Stern. Sure, a lot of people hate Jackson and find him insufferable. Then again, there are a lot of dumb people … er UFC fans … in the world.
Jackson isn’t just the best coach in the history of modern team sports. He’s also arguably the last true original coach.
The Zen Master wrote a tell-all book, too. Only it was much better than Ryan’s, managing to be both infinitely more intelligent and more truly controversial. Jackson absolutely eviscerated Kobe Bryant in “The Last Season.” And then, somehow still came back and coached the sociopathic-tendency superstar to two more titles.
Ryan has no such guts. He puckered up to Mark Sanchez so hard in his book that you half expected another Ryan family fetish video to pop up on Deadspin.
Please don’t compare Ryan to Bill Parcells. Like Jackson, Parcells was a fascinating original. Rex, on the other hand, is just a miserable caricature.
–Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.