Rex Ryan sets Bart Scott straight

  • Jane McManus [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPNNewYork.com | November 29, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After Bart Scott called out the New York Jets' fans on Wednesday, coach Rex Ryan set him straight on Thursday when they arrived at the team's training facility.

"I had a conversation with Bart, and what I said I'll (stand) behind: That our fans deserve better," Ryan said. "And I was the first guy that would say that. With us, what I mentioned to Bart, you have to appreciate the fans. The thing that makes this game so great is the players and the fans, and that's the truth.

"Obviously, there's frustration in the fact that we never accomplished what we wanted to in that game, and the fans let us have it and they have every right to -- there's no doubt."

Scott seems to have taken the advice, especially given the reaction to the way he characterized some fans, as the kind of people picked last for their dodgeball team. A more chastened Scott addressed those remarks with reporters.

"Of course, I'm going to protect my team and protect my organization, but I understand that they pay good money. I'm well aware of that," Scott said. "It's freedom of speech. You can say what you want as long as nobody gets physical or puts their hands on you."

But he still held the line that some of the things fans said were harsh, and recalled when former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox had garbage dumped on his lawn by fans after a bad loss.

"For example, I read something that if I didn't play football, I would probably be unemployed on the streets," Scott said. "I like to think that my economic degree would get me some type (of) job. There are certain perceptions about athletes whether they're warranted or not. But I know what and who I am and I'm comfortable in my own skin."

Scott's remarks came in the wake of a video posted on Deadspin of Jets players going into the tunnel on Thanksgiving night during a 49-19 drubbing from the Patriots. In the video, fans can be heard shouting profanities and taunts at the players.

"That's what we always get. We get stuff like that all the time," Scott told the New York Daily News. "Trust me, that's not out of the ordinary. You get that behind our bench while we are playing. Trust me, there's been worse stuff said behind there."

The thing that makes this game so great is the players and the fans, and that's the truth.

-- Rex Ryan

Ryan clearly has been converted on the issue after a history of NFL fines for inappropriate fan interaction. Ryan received a $75,000 fine for cursing at a fan last November and a $50,000 fine for sending an obscene hand gesture to another fan at a mixed martial arts event in February 2010.

"I learned from it, I think the team learned from it, we keep the head down and go right in the locker room," Ryan said. "Obviously, I made a huge mistake there. I hope I wasn't the only one that learned from it. Just go in, and people are entitled to what they want to say."

The Jets have been addressing their angry fan base a lot this week. Last Thursday, as the Jets gave up five second-quarter touchdowns to the visiting Patriots, the Jets' most famous fan, Ed Anzalone, left the building. He later said he would no longer go to games as "Fireman Ed" because of negative interactions with Jets fans, and Ryan said he was sorry to see Anzalone take that stance.

"You've got to appreciate our fans," Ryan said. "Obviously in the good times, it's much easier than in the bad times, so I had that conversation with Bart."

Adding to Scott's frustration is that he has been hampered by turf toe this season, playing even though one of his toes is swollen to about twice its normal size. Ryan said that Scott's toe injury has slowed him this season, but his passion and energy mean a lot to the team.

"Trust me, Bart can cover still; it's just that he's not 100 percent, but he's still good enough," Ryan said. "The way he's attacking the run and doing different things, Bart -- he doesn't hurt us, let's put it that way, he helps us -- and I think that's where I'm coming from a guy who's obviously frustrated that he's not 100 percent but, him at what he is now, he still brings that intensity, that passion, that physical play that I really appreciate."

At 4-7, the Jets will face the Cardinals at home on Sunday. The team is doing so poorly that some fans have suggested losses wouldn't be the worst thing if it means a higher draft pick in the spring.

"I want to apologize to those fans right now, because there's no way we're tanking anything," Ryan said. "No way. There's nobody in this organization that feels that way. We're going to go out and we're going to compete to win every single game, and that's just the way it is."

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