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Rex VS Bill

There has been a lot of NFL trash talk this week. And Rex Ryan has done more than his share.

For all that is said about all Ryan has said, however, here is something to keep in mind when the Jets play the Patriots today:

It doesn’t matter. Not a sentence, not a word, not a syllable. Ryan can chatter from now until the final whistle — and he probably will — and the scoreboard will not listen.

In the emotion of the moment, people tend to forget this. They assume Ryan will talk so much, he will convince the Jets they can win, or he will talk so much, he will anger the Patriots to the point he motivates them.

This, of course, is hooey. It doesn’t matter if you think Ryan is comical or classless; there isn’t a player on the field who needs words to get fired up for a playoff game. For crying out loud, this is for a spot in the AFC Championship Game. Don’t you think Tom Brady cares as much about winning as humanly possible? Do you think he’s going to care more because Ryan has a big mouth?

Over the years, we’ve heard so much about bulletin-board material that we seem to think it makes a difference. It doesn’t. Not on third and 3. Not with the score tied. Not with these kinds of stakes.

You know when trash talk matters? Before the game, a little. After the game, a lot. It’s fun to remind the losers of something stupid they might have said. And if what you say comes true, it’s grand to act bold and wise and filled with belief.

So does it matter what Ryan says? Sure it does. Just not when it comes to the score.

It matters because the talk will come to define Ryan. It matters because it means losing will wear thin faster. It matters because this kind of act never lasts for long.

Consider this: The Jets are supposed to lose today. The analysts say so, the bookmakers say so, the most recent result (a 45-3 victory by the Patriots last month) says so. But after all his talk, this would be Ryan’s loss, not his team’s. And it would be up to him to explain it.

Remember, last week Ryan said the last loss was his fault, that Belichick outcoached him by 42 points. In the NFL, the more often a coach says losing was his fault, the more likely people are to believe him.

That’s the way it works. After all, the NFL has seen — and heard — outlandish coaches before. There was Buddy, Rex’s dad. There was Jerry Glanville. And Sam Wyche. And Mike Ditka. The league was definitely more fun with those guys in it, but either you win or the audience stops listening.

Today, either his team has something to say for itself.

Or Ryan will have some explaining to do.

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