Rex Ryan defends Dennis Thurman

Updated: May 17, 2014, 4:42 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan opened his post-practice news conference Saturday with a strident defense of his defensive coordinator, Dennis Thurman, who was accused of slapping a 28-year-old woman in the face after she rejected his advances Wednesday at a local restaurant.

"Dennis Thurman, the guy I know, wouldn't put his hands on anybody, let alone a woman," Ryan said at the team's rookie camp. "That's the Dennis Thurman I know."

The woman, Jessie Steinberg, filed a complaint against the 58-year-old coordinator. Thurman wasn't charged with a crime, according to the Morristown, New Jersey, police department, which announced Friday that its investigation is over.

Because the allegation was deemed a simple assault, Steinberg was referred to the violations bureau of the Morristown Municipal Court to pursue a disorderly conduct complaint.

The league will review the matter to make sure it understands the facts, according to an NFL spokesman. The league's personal-conduct policy includes coaches, and the NFL has full authority to discipline a coach or player even if no criminal charges are filed.

Ryan, who has known Thurman for 15 years, clearly isn't happy with the way his right-hand man is being portrayed.

"I love Dennis Thurman. ... It's an honor to know Dennis," Ryan said. "He's a great person. I think when all the facts come out about everything, I think people will start to realize the guy I'm describing -- everybody else will see him the same way I do."

Ryan acknowledged he doesn't know the facts of the case. Asked if he questioned Thurman on whether he slapped the woman, Ryan said, "I don't need to ask." Ryan said he's basing his opinion on his belief in Thurman's character.

It doesn't sound as if Thurman will be disciplined by the Jets. Asked about potential discipline, Ryan was cut off by a public relations official. On Friday night, the team released a statement saying, "We take these matters seriously. There have been no charges filed and we will continue to monitor the situation."

The alleged incident occurred at Pazzo Pazzo's outdoor bar in Morristown, where Thurman tried to buy the woman a drink, according to the police report. TMZ.com posted two photos of an apparent altercation between the coach and the woman. In one photo, the woman is making an obscene gesture to Thurman as she's walking away. Upon returning home, she notified police, claiming she was slapped in the face.

Thurman, a former Dallas Cowboys defensive back, "showed an aggressive demeanor toward her and other women at the bar," the police report said. "[She] advised that a short time after, out of nowhere, Thurman slapped her across the face. In shock and disbelief, [she] said 'You just hit me' to Thurman as he threw his arms up in the air in a frustrated manner then leaving the area."

A manager at the restaurant told the New York Daily News that the allegations are false, and that the bartender and other bystanders didn't witness any such incident.

Thurman was involved in the infamous Ines Sainz incident in 2010, when the Jets were reprimanded by the league for loutish behavior when the former Miss Universe contestant -- an announcer for Mexico's TV Azteca -- visited the Jets' facility to interview players. During practice, Thurman -- the secondary coach -- threw the football in her direction so players could walk near her.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


EDITORS' PICKS

  • A Tribute To Class Of 2014
    ESPN honors the six all-time greats who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  • Welcome Aboard
    Chris Capuano will make his Yankees debut Saturday, and even he is surprised.
  • Lefty's Up
    Jonathon Niese (5-5, 3.13) wasn't sharp in his return from the DL, but gets another chance tonight.
  • Bring It On, Pats
    The Jets, ever obsessed with the Pats, vow not to bow down to their rivals in '14.
  • Melo: 'I Was Flip-Flopping'
    Carmelo Anthony told ESPN it was New York or Chicago.

MORE NFL HEADLINES