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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The Important Issue: Ryan's tattoo

By Jane McManus

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — It's real, and it's spectacular.

Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed that the tattoo of his wife in a Mark Sanchez No. 6 jersey is indeed the real deal. It was captured by a stealth photographer in the bushes as Ryan lay poolside in the Bahamas last week -- a paparazzi moment that few other NFL coaches could hope to inspire. The image went viral and was discussed for hours on sports talk radio.

"It's actually a tattoo I've had for, like, going on three years now," Ryan said. "I know what you're thinking: Obviously if Sanchez doesn't play better, that number's changing. That's pretty much a given."

Ryan isn't new to body art. Two seasons ago, he got a visible tribal design on his calf that caused a stir.

Ryan is stuck with his quarterback forever in at least one way, via the ink on his right arm. He joked that it was an impulsive decision and that perhaps he should have gone with a more generic number.

"It was designed with an '8' jersey and when I sat back and looked, I'm like, no sense putting an eight in there," Ryan said. "We've just gone to two championship games, make it a six."

He had no way of knowing that Sanchez would struggle over the course of his next two seasons. Now, Sanchez and his huge contract are a question mark heading into 2013, and might not be something Ryan wants to immortalize.

"If I was going to choose an ex-Jet, obviously Joe Namath is an obvious one, but I would go with Winston Hill, 75," Ryan said. "And maybe that's what I should have done."

But there's one thing that Ryan isn't changing, and that's the fact that his wife, Michelle, is the woman inked into his arm.

"I've been married 25 years and, through my eyes, my wife's the most beautiful woman in the world," Ryan said.