Commentary

Tattoo just latest act in Jets' circus

Just when you thought life with this team couldn't get any crazier, there's this

Updated: January 4, 2013, 3:58 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Tat's incredible.

Just when you thought life with the New York Jets couldn't get any crazier, we have this: TattooGate.

A sunbathing Rex Ryan, vacationing this week in the Bahamas (you may have heard), is splashed across the front page of the New York Daily News -- and the photo reveals a right-arm tattoo that depicts what appears to be his wife in a No. 6 Mark Sanchez jersey.

Rex Ryan
AP Photo/Joe HowellOne person in the Jets organization said of Rex Ryan's arm tattoo: "That's just Rex."

Not surprisingly, Ryan's taste in body art has created a firestorm even though he's "had it for years," according to a source familiar with the tattoo. Evidently, he wasn't kidding when he once said Sanchez would be his quarterback for as long as he's the head coach. Now we know why.

Turns out Ryan had a quarterback controversy up his sleeve all this time.

Hey, why not add Brandon Moore's butt to the tattoo?

Some people in the organization have known about the tattoo, but not many. Yeah, it's weird, but as one person said, "That's just Rex."

Maybe Ryan did it because Sanchez was his first draft pick as the Jets' coach. But what if he had convinced Brett Favre to stick around for another year? Would he have a No. 4 on his arm?

When he made his dramatic quarterback announcement on Dec. 5, a few days after Greg McElroy came off the bench to beat the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan should've walked into his news conference and rolled up his sleeve to reveal he was sticking with Sanchez -- no words necessary.

Some have speculated that his wife is Tebowing in the tattoo -- now that would be really funny -- but my tattoo sources say Ryan got it long before Tim Tebow arrived on the scene.

There's no sign of a Tebow tattoo on Ryan's body -- unless it's in a hidden spot, which would be entirely fitting because Ryan kept Tebow hidden all season.

What about McElroy? Will he be jealous? Will he blame the exclusion on a "corrupt mindset"?

So now we're left to wonder: If Sanchez remains with the Jets in 2013, is it because of the $8.25 million guarantee in his contract or the tattoo? Which is more binding?

If Ryan wants to keep the tattoo, it'll really limit the Jets' quarterback options in the offseason. The list of No. 6-wearing quarterbacks includes Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Dan Orlovsky, Graham Harrell, Brock Osweiler, Terrelle Pryor and Charlie Whitehurst. Obviously, Cutler is the best of the bunch, but he's not going anywhere.

Maybe the Jets can re-sign Kellen Clemens; he wore No. 6 before Sanchez arrived in 2009. Or maybe they can talk Ray Lucas out of retirement.

We're joking, of course. The Jets always make us laugh, and they've been doing a good job of it in recent days. The organization is in an important transitional phase, searching for a new general manager, yet owner Woody Johnson is hiding from the media and Ryan is soaking up sun in the Bahamas.

Johnson and Ryan will conduct their "season-ending" news conference on Tuesday -- nine days after the season ended, a violation of the NFL media policy. Johnson said in a statement that Ryan will remain the coach; maybe he can pledge his faith in Ryan by getting a Rex tattoo and revealing it at the presser.

But seriously, does the tattoo mean anything in the big picture? Of course not.

Ryan has endured other embarrassing moments over the years, and he'll survive this one, too. Does anybody think free-agent quarterbacks will run from the Jets, knowing the coach has a Sanchez tattoo? This is just another act in the Jets' circus.

Asked whether he found this unusual, one member of the organization -- who didn't know about the tattoo until Friday -- replied simply, "No."

He meant that in a nothing-surprises-me-anymore kind of way.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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