Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced today that he was surprised and confused over the controversy swirling over an obscene gesture he made towards a Miami Dolphin fan while at a martial arts event. Ryan says he routinely responds to insults given by Jets fans routinely in the same manner, and that no one has made it an issue until now.
"I run into Jets fans all the time and give 'em the bird," Ryan told reporters. "And I don't stop at hand gestures, either. I always call them stupid, bandwagon-jumping cocksuckers and nobody ever has a problem with it."
The 47-year-old says "not a day has passed" since he assumed the role of head coaching duties last January where he has not been accosted at his home, on the street, or during football games by Jets fans.
"I mean, I'll be walking my dog and a guy will come out of nowhere and go, 'Hey, way to blow the Saints game, you ignorant, fat piece of shit,' and I'll respond 'Shut your hole, you slovenly, worthless excuse for a human being,' and that will be that. I honestly don't see what I did wrong [to the Dolphins fan]."
New York area residents echoed Ryan's claims, saying that verbal abuse and harassment of sports coaches is an accepted and regular occurrence, and is in fact integral to success in the Big Apple.
"Hey, we expect our coaches to be mentally tough," said East Rutherford resident Tommy Jocko. "A never-ending litany of abuse and harassment is the best way to keep someone permanently alert and on their guard. Plus, it's our way of saying that we care and appreciate the job that person is doing. I have no idea what the big deal is, and frankly, I intend to call at the Ryan residence at the earliest opportunity to chastise the man for relying solely on the middle finger to subdue the heckler.
Added Jocko, "Just throwing the one-finger salute out there? That's elementary-school stuff."
Manhattan resident Eric Trateda voiced similar opinions, telling reporters "I suppose now the talking heads at ESPN will tell us that public figures should keep their opinions to themselves and let verbal abuse go unanswered. Well, not in New York, if I have anything to say about it. Do you think Joe Girardi would have led the Yanks to the title if people hadn't run up to him while he was picking his daughter up from school and told him he was a worthless person who would never step out of the shadow of Joe Torre? Because if you think that mental toughness comes from a life of solitude and privacy, you are dead wrong, mister."
For his part, Ryan says he is willing to make amends to the fan in question, but added that doing so, compounded with the Jets loss in the AFC Championship game, will make his life "a living hell" for the next six months.
"I can just hear 'em now, 'Way to kowtow to some douchebag from Miami, you morbidly obese, pathetic excuse for a broken condom'; 'What we're you doing at an MMA event anyway, fatboy? Looking for a spanking from those muscle-men for your piece-of-shit game-plan on Sunday?'"
Concluded Ryan, "God, I wish people from Miami weren't such thin-skinned pussies."