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INDIANAPOLIS — Looking like your typical average Joe in his extra-large Jets windbreaker, Rex Ryan approached the Combine podium with mischief in his eyes and his heart on his sleeve.
"They should sell tickets," suggested Cleveland-based football writer and PFW Browns correspondent Tony Grossi with a wry smile.
Had the Combine organizers followed Grossi's suggestion, there's no denying Ryan would have been the worth the price of admission, at whatever cost.
"How's everybody doing?" Ryan said. "I've been working on my abs."
And with that intentional reference to a recent well-circulated photo that showed off Ryan's bulging belly, the one-liners just kept coming, fast and furious.
And so did the laughs.
• When asked about the AFC East, he mentioned, in order, New England, Miami and Buffalo. Said Ryan: "I know Miami will be ticked off because I mentioned them second, but I really don't care."
• In another reference to his gargantuan body, Ryan said, "I get hit on by women all the time."
• When the Lucas Oil public-address system would announce the different draft-eligible players and the tables they were sitting at, Ryan repeated the table numbers for his audience's benefit, even though the announcements were impossible not to hear.
• Speaking about player evaluations, he drew laughs when he mentioned the guys in the trenches. Said Ryan, "You watch an offensive lineman run a 40 and all you can say is, 'Whew, he made it!' "
• When an enterprising, young reporter had the audacity to ask Ryan if he might have some interest in Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha should he become available, Ryan paused and looked the interrogator in the eye. "Now there you go," he said. "You know, I really don't need you to get me in trouble."
No, he doesn't.
Ryan once again apologized for giving the finger to a berating fan at a South Florida mixed marital-arts attempt. But nobody thought for a moment that the spontaneous irreverence from the Jets head coach is no longer included in his colorful repertoire.
What you see with Ryan is what you get — a bold and brash personality who will always speak his mind before thinking about the consequences.
"We are going to go after it each time we take the field with guns blazing," he said at one point. "Get ready. Strap it tight. Here we come!"
Ryan was dead serious, however, when singing the praises of Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who came on so strong late in his rookie season.
"If he can play like he did the last 7-8 weeks, then we're going to be OK," Ryan said of Sanchez. "People thought we were crazy playing him when we were losing six of seven games, with my wife leading the bandwagon. But he has all the tools. Right now, he's going over film cut-ups with coaches, trying to get better, even though he can't do anything while recuperating from his knee surgery."
Before signing off, Ryan was asked why so many players say they would love to play for him.
"For whatever reason, guys do want to play with me," he said with a pensive look. "But I think it's as much the players and the assistant coaches on the Jets as it is me."
Don't believe that self-deprecating comment for a second. Guys want to play for Ryan because in addition to being a pretty good coach, he makes the game lots of fun.
"I still plan on taking the train into the city and going to sporting events, even though I mess up all the time," Ryan said when asked if he is doing things differently entering his second season as the Jets' head coach.
Right up to the end of Ryan's Combine address, the giggles never stopped.
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