The Price of Success

Former defensive tackle Trevor Price, who played four seasons under Jets head coach Rex Ryan evaluates Ryan as a head coach for The New York Times. This is a wonderful column that spends about 3/4 of the space talking about what a nice guy Ryan is and how its hurting him as a head coach. I expected it to end with something common like, “It’s a shame but he’s a born coordinator and not a good head coach like former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips and many others.” Instead, to my surprise and delight, I got this:

“However, the debacle that was Monday‚Äôs loss at Tennessee was probably the day of change. Because when Ryan looks back on this season, it is going to harden him and change him.

“The day is going to come when his player and coaching decisions will be made with the same cutthroat efficiency that you find in places like New England, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Ryan will realize he has no choice but to develop that same poisonous ‘him or me’ attitude that permeates almost every other head coach in the N.F.L. And on that day the Jets will gain one of the better head coaches in the league. At the same time they will lose one of its better human beings.”

On one level, like most fans, I want to see great football and I’d love to see Ryan overcome adversity to find a level of success. But most of the time, you assume guys like Ryan are what they are. In truth, this is my experience in all walks of life. Most nice people would rather continue to be nice – usually thinking that this is, in actuality, the best way to be successful or, perhaps, figuring its better to sacrifice some success for the preservation of their own conscience.

I consider myself to be in the second category. From my childhood I’ve been raised to believe that “treating people right” comes before success and money. That these things are what’s really important in a person. Those beliefs have been repeatedly tested and, in fact, have been tested epecially hard lately as government funding levels for medical research from the National Institutes of Health plumet and tough decisions need to be made every day by scientists who lack funding. But in the end, I couldn’t do what New England coach Bill Belichick does. Perhaps this means I’m not tough enough but the preservation of my soul is just too important.

This was a great column not because it provided great insight (it did) but because as the reader and a non-Jets fan, I now find myself invested in Ryan’s future. I really hope Ryan keeps his job if for no other reason than so I can see what happens. The problem is that I don’t know whether to hope that he becomes successful or whether to hope he doesn’t.

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