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Thursday, October 20, 2011
Rex Ryan regrets swipe at Norv Turner

By Jane McManus
ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan admits he messed up in his comments about the San Diego Chargers, New York's opponent this week.

"It was me, it's all on me. I'm guilty. Absolutely," Ryan said. "It was unintentional."

On Wednesday, the Jets coach made an off-hand comment when asked about the interview he had for the Chargers job that eventually went to Norv Turner in 2007.

"Well, I think I would have had a couple of rings," Ryan said. "I'm telling you, those teams were loaded."

The Chargers haven't won any championships. Ryan was hired by the Jets in 2009.

Ryan said he immediately regretted the comments and then called Turner to apologize. Turner addressed the drama on Wednesday in his own news conference.

"I hadn't seen his quote and I was a little bit surprised by the call," Turner said. "And then after I saw the quote, I didn't have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed the last couple of years."

It was the kind of comeback Ryan said he could appreciate.

"I think we're even though, because he did get me with a good shot," Ryan said.

Ryan made a few jokes about the reaction to what he said, suggesting that he'd wear a helmet to avoid another postgame coaching standoff like the one Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz had this past weekend. He also said he hopes that his relationship with Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum could be repaired.

"I do think I'll be able to get my relationship back with Norv," Ryan said. "I think we'll be OK. The one I do worry about is Tannenbaum obviously because he won't speak to me or anything else now."

Turning serious, Ryan said he was happy with the players on his roster.

"I wouldn't trade this team's (players) for anybody's and I've said that forever," Ryan said.

Ryan, one of the loudest coaches in the NFL, gets a lot of attention for the things he says off the field, especially in a market as large as New York. Yet, Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who also played for Turner, didn't take Ryan's comments literally.

"I think, I really think Rex, it didn't come off the way he meant it to come off -- honestly," Tomlinson said. "I think he was caught in kind of a situation where Rex is always going to be honest and he is a confident person if you know Rex. He just felt like he would have rings by now if he was the coach. Now, I don't think it was anything against Norv; he has a lot of respect for Norv and Norv is a heck of a football coach. I think Rex was just stating his opinion."

Ryan certainly has praised Turner more in the moments since making the joke than he probably ever has. And he has praised the Chargers as an organization.

Ryan said that he didn't think he was taken seriously until the team brought him in to interview for the Chargers job. It was the first time he'd been considered for a head coaching position, and even though he didn't get that job he said it led to other interviews and ultimately to the Jets position.

The Jets will host the Chargers at 1 p.m. on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. San Diego is 4-1 and coming off a bye week. If the team was lacking in motivation, Ryan provided plenty of material, even if inadvertantly.

Ryan has a habit of drawing attention in big situations. In the playoffs last season, Ryan called out Patriots coach Bill Belichick and said it was personal. He's insulted Tom Brady's preparation and dressed up as his brother before the Jets faced Cleveland.

"I just don't want to take away from our teams and our team's preparation," Ryan said. "I think that's the biggest thing. But I want to be myself I want to be true to myself. The on-the-field accomplishments, I just want to win. And at the end of the day -- I'd love to be respected by my peers and things like that -- but I just want to win. And I'd be happy if that's the case."

Jane McManus is a reporter and columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.