EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets throws passes before the game against the New England Patriots on September 19, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are supposed to be archenemies. They’re not supposed to exchange Christmas cards, compliment one another on their interesting clothing choices or even swap pleasantries, at least as far as Patriots and/or Jets fans are concerned.
But on Tuesday, Ryan broke that code. The Jets head coach actually backed up Belichick on his decision to play Rob Gronkowski on an extra point late in the game, that same play when Gronkowski broke his left forearm and could cause him to miss anywhere from four to eight weeks.
Ryan went as far as to call the criticism of Belichick’s decision “absolutely ridiculous” before further defending his rival.
“[Gronkowski] is on an extra point. He’s probably done it 100 times this year for the simple fact that’s how many points they score,” Ryan said. “You never see that. Every single team in the league [does it]. We have D’Brickashaw Ferguson there.”
Belichick’s decisions sparked a pretty polarizing debate on the issue, with some even questioning the intelligence of the man many call “genius.” But Ryan understands as well as anyone how easily a player can suffer that sort of freak injury, and believes Belichick wasn’t wrong in his decision.
“You don’t play the game that way and it’s just an unfortunate thing,” Ryan said. “That’s just a freak deal that that would happen. But unfortunately that’s part of the game. Injuries do happen. We lose [Santonio] Holmes and [Darrelle] Revis to non-contact injuries and it’s just one of those things and it’s unfortunate, obviously.”
Belichick responded to Ryan’s support with some reflections on his long and “good” relationship with the Jets head coach, but he still wouldn’t comment specifically on the injury or Ryan’s thoughts on Gronkowski.
While these two teams may have a deeply rooted hatred for one another — and those emotions will spill over onto the field on Thursday night — Ryan and Belichick obviously also have a strong respect for one another. And exchanges like this only serve to spread that sentiment even further.
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