Picture this, it’s January 1979, and the Steelers are in Miami, getting ready to play the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. You pick up a copy of this newspaper, and there on the front page is a huge picture of Chuck Noll sitting poolside.
On his bicep, clear as day, is a tattoo. It’s a full color picture of his wife wearing a Terry Bradshaw jersey and apparently nothing else other than a come-hither expression.
Having trouble conjuring that image?
Try this one, Vince Lombardi is poolside in Los Angeles at Super Bowl I, and he has a tattoo of his wife wearing a Bart Starr jersey?
If you haven’t seen it yet, just Google “Rex Ryan tattoo,” and you’ll see the coach of the New York Jets on the beach, with a tattoo on his right bicep of his wife wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey.
Now, imagine you’re the owner of the Jets, Woody Johnson, and you picked up a copy of the New York Daily News Friday morning and saw that picture.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m the Jets owner, and I see it, I’m asking myself, “I’ve entrusted my billion dollar organization to this moron? A 50-year-old man who took it upon himself to go to the trouble to get that picture permanently displayed on his fat bicep?”
Then I pick up the phone and fire him.
If Noll or Lombardi had shown up with a crazy tattoo, I might let it slide and just tell the GM to keep a close eye on him to see if there are any other signs that he might be losing his mind.
But they had won championships.
The Jets just finished a 6-10 season and have become the laughingstock of the NFL.
Maybe you think firing a guy for having a tattoo is a little harsh and too reactionary in 2013. I don’t. I think Ryan’s tattoo speaks volumes about him. Maturity? Leadership? Why would I want my head coach to be a guy who tries to be like his 20-something players? How can he be expected to have their respect?
Johnson should do the inevitable and just fire Ryan now.
• Then there is Bill O’Brien.
He coached Penn State to an 8-4 record and is on everybody’s short list as college football Coach of the Year for 2012. He also had his contract automatically extended from five to nine years at a base of $950,000 plus extras in July, when the NCAA leveled serious sanctions against Penn State as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The nine-year, guaranteed contract didn’t prevent him from sniffing around one or two of the many NFL openings. After it was reported that he interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, O’Brien said he was staying at Penn State because he’s “not a one-and-done guy.”
He apparently is a guy who recognizes leverage when he sees it. According to the Harrisburg Patriot News, O’Brien was given a $1.3-million raise, and his assistants also had their salaries increased.
Wouldn’t it have been refreshing if O’Brien’s boss, Penn State’s new president Rodney Erickson, had phoned O’Brien and said, “Hey, Bill, we committed nine years and millions of dollars to you. There are lots of players who are still here at Penn State, who could have transferred, but chose to stay because you promised them that you wouldn’t leave. If you leave, your contract says you owe us $18 million. Don’t let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out. Do all the interviews you want, you’re not getting a nickel more than your contract says you will get.”
Of course, that didn’t happen and never would happen. That would be the right thing to do.
• ESPN.com chief seamhead Jayson Stark is out with his annual column celebrating the wonderful parity in Major League Baseball. He cites the usual meaningless amount of different teams that have played in World Series and won championships. He likes to claim the NFL, with its salary cap, isn’t as competitively balanced as it’s cracked up to be. And he missed the point again, because it’s not as much about the teams as it is about where the teams come from.
In the last 20 years, 27 of the 40 World Series teams have come from the top 10 TV markets. And two have come from Canada’s biggest market, Toronto. In the last 10 years, 14 of the 20 World Series teams have come from the top 11 TV markets. Detroit is 11th.
In the last 20 years, 19 of the 40 Super Bowl participants have come from TV markets ranked 21st or lower. Pittsburgh is 23rd.
In the last 25 years, 24 of the 50 Super Bowl participants have been from markets ranked 21st or lower.
• I have not been interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching vacancy.
John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter and hosts an internet radio show.