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it's a hard knocks life

Hard Knocks Recap: The Rex Ryan Show

Rex Ryan has claimed he wouldn't be the star of Hard Knocks, but it's apparent through just one episode that he's the dominant personality at camp. As if there was any doubt. We see Ryan explaining his goals for the season ("leading the league in fucking wins"), wearing his lucky Chuck Taylors, exposing the coach who uses tanning spray, punting a football (or attempting to do so), snacking on approved munchies so as to avoid a "snack fine," and so on. Coaching a football team looks like a lot of fun. Explained Bart Scott on why he'd choose Ryan should he need to enter a dark alley with someone: "He talks like us."

In fact, over the course of the hour, Joe Namath technically did more actual football teaching than Ryan did. (Namath also beat Ryan in the category of tucking his T-shirt deeper into his khaki shorts, a competition Ryan thankfully did not participate in.) But perhaps that's how Ryan operates: The x's and o's will come later, after he knows his team is willing to follow him into a dark alley, or vice versa. Because Ryan needs his team to buy not so much into a particular system, but a mindset — that the Jets will win the Super Bowl. And while he motivates with packets of negative articles — or as he calls it to LaDainian Tomlimson, "poop material" — Ryan seems to really enjoy the expectations that came with their successful 2009 season. Said Ryan on flying under the radar, like they did last season: "Fuck that."

While Ryan was having fun at camp, doing a bed-check on Darrelle Revis's empty room, Mike Tannenbaum declared himself a "failure" in frustration after the unproductive meeting at the Roscoe Diner — a scene that felt more like a reality-show confessional for the benefit of viewers than like an actual, candid conversation. But since Revis isn't talking to the media, we're only going to get one side of the story for now. And the Jets maintain that the two sides aren't even close to a deal. Though perhaps the unintentionally funniest line of the night was Tannenbaum's, from earlier in the show: "The object of the exercise is to get Darrelle signed, so anything we put in the newspaper that isn't going to help that goal, we're not going to say." Nice to see that working out.

Elsewhere at camp, we saw players get cut, heard Mark Sanchez speak in clichés, watched Ryan brag about his personal draft pick (fullback John "the Terminator" Conner), and briefly met four veteran acquisitions: Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. If you were previously unfamiliar with this quartet, you'd think the Jets had signed four All-Pros in their prime, without any concerns about a particular player beginning the season on the suspended list. Producers were kind on this topic. Said the narrator: "The new guys look good in green."

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Photo: Al Pereira/Getty Images