Before hundreds of business professionals at Wednesday’s Long Island Association luncheon at the Crest Hollow Country Club, three of New York’s biggest football names spoke for nearly 90 minutes about their careers and current roles in the game.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan showed sparks of his usual brass self, calling a “cruel joke,” and that seeing those teams compete on the biggest stage did not provide any extra motivation for his team.
“Nah, you can’t be more motivated than we are,” he told a group of reporters before his round-table discussion alongside former Giants quarterback Phil Simms and former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason.
Ryan carried on about how 2011 was a disappointment for the players, coaches and fans, but also said that along with growing pains come lessons learned.
“Anybody that’s successful, you have scars,” he said. “We got some scars this year from this. Anybody that doesn’t have scars is either lying to you or never dared. One thing about us, we dare to be great. I put it out there that I want to be great. I came here because I want to win.
“I chose the Jets over other opportunities. I thought I’d have a chance to win here first. We’re going to learn from this. I have to get better personally. Each individual on our football team gets better.”
On the possibility of Peyton Manning playing quarterback for the Jets, Ryan didn’t miss a beat in saying that he could not comment on players who are currently under contract with other teams.
“I’ve paid enough fines this year,” he said.
Referencing his family’s success in football – between him, his brother Rob and father Buddy, they have five Super Bowl rings in six tries – Ryan said he’d like to add another ring to the collection.
“I plan on getting another one,” he said. “I plan on getting it quickly. We put our expectations high and that’s where they should be.”
Simms, currently an analyst with CBS, shared stories about his days playing under legendary coach Bill Parcells.
“For eight years it was never, ‘Hey, Phil …’” he said. “It was, ‘f-ing Simms.’ If I did really well it was, ‘Hey, boy…’ I played eight years for Bill Parcells and when it was over I went home to check my birth certificate to make sure my first name began with a P and not an F.”
Simms was very complimentary of Parcells and his uncanny work ethic as well.
“He had an unbelievable way of driving you to where you think you’re going to break physically and mentally,” Simms said. “Everyday was the Super Bowl. I’m not exaggerating. When it was all over, I never hated him for it. There was something about him.”
As for Esiason, he was vocal about his love of Long Island, his passion for the Boomer Esiason Foundation which helps raise funding and awareness for the fight against cystic fibrosis, and .
“I want the Islanders to stay here,” said Esiason, who is a media personality with WFAN, CBS and Westwood One Radio and grew up a die-hard Rangers fan. “I think it’s great for Long Island. It creates business, jobs. It creates an exciting place to go. I worry about where the Islanders are going to end up. I’ll leave it up to the politicians and support it in any way I can.”