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Ryan apologizes for comments about Chargers

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan watches during the first quarter of the Jets' NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan watches during the first quarter of the Jets' NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
By Dennis Waszak Jr.
AP Sports Writer / October 20, 2011

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J—Talk about something you don't hear everyday: a regretful Rex Ryan.

The brash and mouthy New York Jets coach knew he messed up Wednesday as soon as he said, "I would have had a couple of rings," if the San Diego Chargers had hired him as coach in 2007. The comments were taken as a slight at Chargers coach Norv Turner, who was hired instead and hasn't yet won a Super Bowl in San Diego.

Turner immediately received an apologetic phone call from Ryan.

"It was me, it's all on me," Ryan said Thursday. "I'm guilty. Absolutely. I did call Norv. I won't get into that conversation, but it was unintentional."

Ryan, who made the comments during a conference call with Chargers reporters, insisted he didn't intentionally diss Turner, but rather was trying to compliment the job the Chargers have done in building a consistent winner. Turner got in a little jab of his own Wednesday when asked about Ryan's comments.

"I didn't have a chance to ask him this," Turner said, "but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed the last couple of years."

Zing! Ryan was hired by the Jets in 2009, with bold -- and so far empty -- promises of Super Bowl success ever since.

"I think we're even because he did get me with a good shot," a smiling Ryan said. "There's no question."

With postgame handshakes a big focus these days after Detroit's Jim Schwartz and San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh nearly got into it last Sunday, should eyes be focused on the Ryan-Turner meeting at midfield Sunday at MetLife Stadium?

"I did ask Norv if I need to wear a helmet, but he assured me that I never did," Ryan said.

Some fans and media thought Ryan's comments could also have been taken as a slight to the Jets, perhaps that if given the talent the Chargers have had, he could've already won in New York.

"I wouldn't trade this team for anybody's," Ryan said. "I've said that forever."

His players laughed off Ryan's comments, saying that it's just Rex being Rex.

"We laughed," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "The guys who get offended by it are the guys in San Diego. We don't care, he's our coach. We've got to play the game. ... That's his way of kind of taking pressure off his players and putting it onto himself. Whatever Rex does, he has a way of challenging players to get the best out of them."

But now, Ryan jokingly said he might need to say sorry again, and this time to Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

"I do think I'll be able to get my relationship back with Norv," Ryan said with a grin. "I think we'll be OK. The one I do worry about is Tannenbaum, obviously, because he won't speak to me or anything else now."

It's just the latest in an ever-growing list of uncomfortable situations Ryan's mouth has gotten him in since becoming the Jets' coach.

"Obviously I wish this one never happened," he said. "It really was unintentional. I don't know what other word to use. I don't know what to even say."

Wow, a loss for words? That's another Rex rarity.

"I was praising the heck out of them because I think they have a great organization," he said, "and I talked about (general manager) A.J. Smith because he really did put me on the map."

Ryan's first interview for a head coaching job came with the Chargers.

"It led me to getting three interviews the next year, and then landing this job," Ryan said. "I really did mean those things sincerely. And the other thing ... it just happens."

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