Jets coach Rex Ryan once told his team he planned to beat up Patriots coach Bill Belichick before a meeting between the two teams.
That’s the word from former Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who says that Ryan would say crazy things to pump up his team, and that one of those things included a vow to take Belichick out.
“Rex got in front of us, he said, ‘I’m going to set the tempo today, guys,’ he said, ‘I’m going to set the tempo. When I meet Bill Belichick in the center of the field, I’m going to start it off and punch him in the face,’” Tomlinson recalled on NFL Network.
Tomlinson called Ryan a “master motivator” and said he always knew exactly the right way to fire his players up.
“He was motivating his guys,” Tomlinson said. “We won. Our coach showed the confidence that he has in us.”
Ryan isn’t the first coach to use that motivational tactic. When a fight broke out between Notre Dame and Miami players before their 1988 meeting, then-Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz told his players that if another fight breaks out, “save Jimmy Johnson’s ass for me!” Ryan also might be taking after his father, former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, who also used to talk about going after opposing coaches (and once punched one of his fellow assistant coaches on the sideline during a game).
But for all of Rex Ryan’s bluster, he is by most accounts a congenial guy. It’s probably safe to say Belichick doesn’t have to worry about getting punched at midfield on Thursday night.