Clearing the boards

This story appears in the May 30, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

AFTER LEADING GANG GREEN to back-to-back AFC championship games, Rex Ryan has earned the right to bluster. When he's not guaranteeing (again) a Super Bowl win in 2012, he's scorching the earth in his new book, Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs and Leadership in the World's Most Beautiful Game. Ryan is too busy to troll fan forums, so we brought the best of them to the big guy to see what he had to say. Here's a shocker -- he gave as good as he got.

1. "[Ryan] can't manage a game or run a clock. He has proved that over and over again. Defense is the only part of the game he understands."
-Posted on ESPN.com Sportsnation
RYAN: "I know a thing or two about clock management. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I'm getting better each year. I think I'm a pretty decent coach right now."

2. "I would give the Jets' draft a solid D, bordering on an F. This draft was heavy with pass rushing, DE talent. They simply didn't get one, which is hard to believe."
-Posted on ESPN.com's Jets message board
RYAN: "I doubt this person watched one bit of film of any player we drafted. Now, if we could have jumped into the top five, we could have gotten a better pass-rusher, but I'm excited about Muhammad Wilkerson. He had 9.5 sacks last season at Temple. He's a potential three-down lineman."

3. "That's funny, Rex calling Vernon Gholston a phony, considering how much he publicly kissed Vernon's ass the past two years and now admits to lying about that. Who's the bigger phony?"
-Posted on Jetnation.com
RYAN: "There's not a phony bone in my body, but if I could change a couple of words in the book, that would be one of them. Anyway, when I called Vernon a phony, I was talking to Eric Mangini about his combine numbers; he never played to those numbers. Vernon is a great person, and he got better as a player the two years I had him. And I don't kiss anybody's butt."

4. "I don't think even Rex has much faith in Mark Sanchez being able to consistently pass the ball down the field despite all the quality receivers he has."
-Posted on Nationalfootballpost.com
RYAN: "Mark Sanchez is what I call a fourth-quarter quarterback. He's at his best when the game is on the line. He's been in the league only two years, and he already has as many road playoff victories as any quarterback in history."

5. "Behind all the trashing and jabbing in the Patriots-Jets rivalry, you can tell how much mutual respect Bill Belichick and Ryan have for each other. That's cool."
-Posted on JetsInsider.com
RYAN: "I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Bill Belichick. I don't know if he has the same for me, but I think he knows the kind of competitor I am. If I had to win one game with another coach leading my team, it'd be Bill."

6. "Does this guy ever shut up with the SB predictions?"
-Posted on Prosportsdaily.com
RYAN: "When I first came to the Jets, I predicted we'd meet President Obama before his term ended. When it comes true, I'll accept everybody's apology."

7. "I hear he claims the Jets have nicer feet than our guys."
-Posted on Giants.com's message board
RYAN: [laughing] "Come on, I'm not going to comment on that."

Sam Alipour is a contributing writer to ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. You can reach him at sam.alipour@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter here.