Rex Ryan can laugh about it now -- a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl -- but he wasn't feeling too good about it before the game. He had to make a couple of appearances in Indianapolis during the run-up to Super Bowl XLVI, a matchup he called "a cruel joke." He decided to avoid the crowds and stay in his hotel room.
"One thing everybody had in common: Nobody liked me," he said Wednesday in Woodbury, L.I., where he, Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms addressed several hundred members of the business community at a luncheon.
Ryan, speaking publicly for the first time since the Giants' fourth Super Bowl title, gave the large lunch crowd a dose of Rex. In a rountable-style discussion with the two former quarterbacks, Ryan was funny, entertaining and, for the most part, fairly reserved -- the New Rex. But once or twice, his trademark bravado came out.
"I'm the only one (in my family) with only one Super Bowl ring," he said, alluding to the ring he won as an assistant on the 2000 Ravens. "But I'm planning on getting another one, and I'm planning on getting it quickly."
Ryan was asked by the moderator about his famous, Day 1 prediction, how the Jets would be visiting President Obama in the White House as Super Bowl champs. After joking that they're "running out of years," Ryan choked down a slice of humble pie.
"I thought we'd do it overnight," he said. "I always believed we had the best team. I've been convinced otherwise the last three years."
Speaking to reporters before the luncheon, Ryan claimed the Giants' Super Bowl title provides no additional motivation. Do you believe him?
"Nah, you can’t be more motivated than we are," Ryan said. "A goal of ours was to host a playoff game. Well, to do that, you have to get in front of New England; that’s hard to do. I drove around [MetLife Stadium] for self-motivation. Like, ‘Ooh, gosh.' I want to be playing a playoff game at our stadium next year and obviously that’s something that you try to do.
"But to be more motivated as an organization because this team won or that team won, no, absolutely not. You can’t get be more motivated than we are."
Later, during the roundtable, Ryan expressed disappointment over the 8-8 season (sounding like a broken record), but he vowed to learn hard lessons from their mistakes.
"Anybody that's successful, you have scars," he told the audience. "We got some scars this year from this. Anybody who doesn't have scars is either lying to you or never dared. One thing about us: We dare. We put it out there -- I put it out there -- that we want to be great."
Other notes from the day:
• Ryan confirmed that, as expected, he had a post-Super Bowl dinner with owner Woody Johnson to discuss the state of the team. "It was great," he said. "We all know, we’ve identified things we think we have to get better at as an organization, and we’re excited about moving forward."
• Ryan reiterated (for the umpteenth time) that Mark Sanchez will be the starting quarterback. He called Sanchez an "ascending player" with a "bright future." He added: "He does a lot of good things, but are we where we want to be? No. We want to be putting that ring on our finger as world champions."
• Ryan dodged a question about potential interest in Peyton Manning, citing the NFL tampering rule. He joked that he's already paid enough in fine money. Ryan could put a stop to the Manning speculation by declaring, "Mark's our guy and we have absolutely no interest in adding any big-name quarterback that might become available" -- but he hasn't done that. I wonder why.