Rex Ryan's New York Jets talk big but they still have no rings to show for it after the Pittsburgh Steelers raced to a 24-0 lead and then held on to beat the Jets 24-19 in the AFC Championship Game. This is the second year in a row that the Jets lost in the AFC Championship Game. The Jets' slow start versus Pittsburgh markedly contrasts with how the Jets kept the New England Patriots off balance for most of their Divisional playoff game last week and--considering all of the woofing that Ryan and the Jets did about Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots--makes one wonder if at some level beating New England really was New York's biggest goal.
New York linebacker Bart Scott--who has made one Pro Bowl and has never won a Super Bowl in his nine season NFL career--barked last week about New England's defense not being able to "stop a nosebleed" but he was largely invisible as Rashard Mendenhall bulldozed over the Jets' defense in the AFC Championship. Scott exclaimed "Can't wait!" when asked about playing the Steelers and his emphatic, colorful comments during that interview with Sal Paolantonio rank up there with Lee Flowers' "paper champions" line regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Flowers ran his mouth and then watched the Buccaneers later win a Super Bowl while he never won a ring (or even made a Pro Bowl) and Scott's premature boasting and posturing looks just as foolish.
On the fifth anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81 point game, ESPN commentator Jalen Rose--who guarded Bryant part of the time during that epic performance--said that his Toronto Raptors did not commit a flagrant foul against Bryant because Bryant's demeanor never changed during the game: Bryant was focused on winning the game, not showing up the Raptors; it is worth remembering that earlier in that season Bryant outscored the Dallas Mavericks--a championship-contending team--62-61 in the first three quarters but he sat out the entire fourth quarter because the Lakers had total control over the game: Bryant clearly could have scored at least 70 points (and probably more than that) but the larger goal--the only goal--is winning, not padding one's stats or puffing out one's chest (that is also why Bryant plays hurt even though this damages his stats: he knows that even when he is not 100% healthy he can still draw double teams and maybe even hit a game-winning shot).
I have no problem with guys who talk as long as they deliver the goods--champions like Muhammad Ali, Reggie Jackson and Deion Sanders backed up their words by delivering multiple championships--but here is a bit of wisdom from Julius Erving: "I wanted to win without boasting and lose without crying. If you chew on that one, it's going to keep you in a good place that helps you maintain your sanity while all the madness is going on around you."