Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - Rex, Norv and Video, or why LH is relevant

An interesting side note to this Sunday's NY Jets - San Diego Chargers game was the press coverage of NY Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan's interaction with San Diego Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner.

Last week, a reporter asked Rex Ryan whether he would have been more successful with the Chargers team than Norv Turner has been. Ryan responded that he would have won a few championships, but this was said in jest. The story made its way back to Turner who remarked something to the effect of - how many championships has Rex won with the Jets?

The "back story" to the dueling media barbs is quite interesting. Ryan had been considered for the San Diego head coaching position before it was given to Turner in 2007. After becoming head coach, Turner took the Chargers to the playoffs three times, but was unable to get his team to the Super Bowl. [Meanwhile, Ryan would wait another two years before getting the Jets job]. This continued a pattern of playoff ineptitude as the Chargers of the 2000s often won their division but never tasted playoff success. Much like previous HC Marty Schottenheimer, the Chargers fans blamed Turner for their team's failure to reach the big game.

Another interesting angle to the story is that Turner and Ryan are good friends and have been for some time. The answer that Rex gave was most likely Rex being Rex, but it apparently opened old wounds for Turner.

When Ryan and Turner met on Sunday prior to the start of the game, Ryan gave Turner a bear hug and the two seemed to have "made up." However, the damage was already done as Ryan's jest had exposed Turner to old criticism.

The Ryan and Turner story made me think of the rhyme we used to sing as children - "loshon harah lamed heh, go to hell the easy way." The Torah's prohibition of loshon harah bars a person from speaking about another, be it positive or negative. Unlike the trite expression - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it", loshon harah bars all speech about another, except under certain limited circumstances.

Had Ryan simply refused to comment about his friend Norv Turner, the story never would have gotten off the ground. Indeed, under the rules of loshon harah, Ryan should not have given his thoughts about Turner. However, Ryan needed to be funny (or perhaps wanted to deflect attention from his team) and he answered the question in a way which wounded his friend.

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