I must admit that I was a bit surprised by Tony Dungy’s comments about Rex Ryan’s language on HBO’s Hard Knocks series.  Not that I disagree with Dungy, but I was surprised to hear him be so critical of Ryan’s language.  Here is some of what Dungy had to say on the Dan Patrick Show:

“I’m disappointed with all the profanity,” Dungy said. “I think Rex can make his points without all that.”

Asked if he would hire a coach who talks the way Ryan does, Dungy answered, “I would not. I personally don’t want my players to be around that. I don’t want to be around that. . . . It’s hard for me to be around that, and if I were in charge, no, I wouldn’t hire someone like that. Now, I’ve been around ‘F’ bombs, so it’s not like it’s new. I just don’t think that has to be part of your every-minute, everyday vocabulary to get your point across.”

Dungy even went on to say that he felt NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell should communicate his disapproval of Ryan’s language on the show and ask him to tone it down.  The topic has probably taken off more than Dungy would have liked, but I appreciate his candor on the matter and I agree that Rex should tone down the frequency with which he uses four letter words in the documentary and in general.  I even agree with Dungy that if given the choice to hire someone who is as loose with their speech as Rex is versus someone who is more respectable withthe words that come out of their mouth, I would go prefer the latter.

Now, i do think there are some things at work here.  Rex is the type of guy that likes to give people a show.  I think in part that his language on the show is intentionally over the top in order to entertain people who find four letter words funny.  I also am not naive enough to think that  coaches like Dungy, who are more careful with their speech, never curse or use harsh language.  I admit that on occasion an appropriately placed four letter word can help drive home a point.  But when you use those words every 4th and 5th word, it diminishes your ability to drive points home and you come across like a teenage boy trying to show off the foul words he overheard in a Bob Saget stand-up bit.

Some will argue that Rex relates well to his players and his language is nothing more than what his players and assistant coaches want and expect to hear.  I would counter that Rex is entirely like-able without his colorful additions to the language.  I would also counter that there have and will be plenty of coaches that relate to their players without having to make them blush. 

I also think Rex is constantly trying to live up to the legend of Buddy Ryan.  It has to be tough to be the son of an NFL coach, especially one who was a bright defensive mind.  The external comparisons are constant and the internal pressure even more extreme.  But Rex, let me let you off the hook.  Buddy was not a good head coach.  He was a good defensive coordinator, who had good talent and the willingness to experiment and take chances.  In my mind Rex can be a much better coach than his father, but it is his passion and knowledge of the game that will help him surpass his father and motivate his players, not his not his ability to say “Darrell *$&%ing Revis.”  Rex should listen to coach Dungy and tone down his act and lead his men like a man.