Pressing Issues at Sports Press Conferences

Rex Ryan

I want to take a look at a couple of interesting announcements that came out of the world of sports yesterday, both involving guys named Ryan: Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Calling last year’s guarantee of a Super Bowl victory a “huge mistake,” New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan refused to make a similar boast to reporters yesterday at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. The fact that the combine is traditionally held in Indianapolis – the city in which Ryan’s cross-stadium rivals, the New York Football Giants, won Super Bowl XLVI over the Jets’ divisional rival, the New England Patriots – surely had nothing to do with Ryan’s newfound humility.

“[The guarantee is] something that I’ve been thinking about a great deal,” Ryan told the reporters. “Obviously, we had a terrible season. I take full responsibility for it. Part of that guarantee really contributed to it.” No doubt, Rex. Similar to that self-proclaimed “Dream Team,” the Philadelphia Eagles, you and the Jets have the hard lesson that it’s not enough to talk the talk; you have to walk the walk. Or, to put it another way: “Deeds, not words.”

Granted, it’s not like Ryan came out of nowhere with his boast: The Jets had fallen short of the big game, losing in the AFC championship match in the previous two seasons. However, despite Ryan’s best intentions to motivate his squad, the Jets finished 8-8, missing the playoff entirely.

Which doesn’t mean he has written off the upcoming season, however: “There’s not going to be any promises,” Ryan…er, promised. “But I will say we’re going to have a team now that I think is going to have the potential to do great things. I have something I believe will happen, but I’m not going to share it with you.”

I would just like to tell Rex to take his time, build a solid team, and help the Jets meet the Giants at the New Meadowlands Stadium (that insurance corporation has paid me to call the stadium by its corporate name) in 2014 for Super Bowl XLVIII – the first all home-team match-up!

MVP: Most Valuable Presser?

Ryan Braun

Turning to baseball, there was another Ryan press conference on Thursday – this one in Phoenix, where reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers summoned the media to declare that the truth had prevailed, and crowned himself the victor after an arbitrator overturned a 50-game suspension following a positive urine test last season for banned substances.

According to reports, a urine sample collected on Oct. 1, 2011, was not delivered to the testing facility until Oct. 3, violating baseball’s same-day delivery rule. Braun said the 44-hour delay (during which the sample was kept refrigerated by the league representative) rendered the test “fatally flawed.” Apparently, the arbitrator agreed, but his written opinion on the case has not been released.

The positive results (initially reported on ESPN) allegedly indicated the highest level of testosterone ever recorded in a baseball urine test. Braun did not say how the delivery delay could be blamed for the results of the chemical analysis on the sample that he himself certified was sealed after collection. “I don’t honestly know what happened to it in that 44-hour period,” he told the media. But he did say:

“At the end of the day the truth prevailed. I’m a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed in the way that it was applied to me in the case. As players, we’re held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everybody else associated with that program should be held to the same standard.”

Okay, the guy certainly deserves to have truthful results from his urine test, but I’m at a loss to figure out how sitting in a fridge can cause pee to spontaneously develop high concentrations of synthetic testosterone. Surely the fact that Braun plays for the Brewers, which are owned by Commissioner Bud Selig, had absolutely nothing at all to do with the reversal. Major League Baseball is scrupulously honest, and Selig has been beyond reproach as commissioner. There was simply a breakdown somewhere in the process. Braun stopped short of saying the sample was deliberately tampered with, so if no one dosed the sample, then how did the test turn out as it did?

Arbitrator Shyam Das has 30 days to issue a written report, so we’ll have to wait until then to learn what the thinking was. Until then, it appears that the positive result still stands, because the only thing Das announced yesterday was that the 50-game ban was thrown out.

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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