By Joe Brod
It’s five minutes after midnight, March 3, 2009. Recently named New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan is standing on a lawn in suburban Baltimore making a phone call. Who is he calling? He is calling the guy who he has handpicked to bring with him to New York to help reshape his football team.
If Rex Ryan built these New York Jets in his image, Bart Scott was his chisel.
There was a very simple reason Rex wanted Bart on this football team – Bart is exactly who Rex would be if Rex were a football player.
Bart is a self-made player who earned everything he got. One of the funnier moments of Hard Knocks last year was when Scott, DB coach Dennis Thurman and several others were standing on the sideline talking about then rookie Joe McKnight and Scott asked where McKnight went to college. Upon being told McKnight was a USC alum, Scott cracked, “oh, so he took a pay cut to come play for us.”
It’s a strong line coming from Bart Scott because very few players earned their big free agent deal quite the way he did. Scott was a walk on at Southern Illinois who made the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. Scott went from those humble beginnings to the Pro Bowl and the anchor of one of the NFL’s best defenses.
But those aren’t the only reasons to love Bart Scott.
One reason to love Bart Scott is the passion he has for the game and the fans. When Bart let loose with his now infamous “CAN’T WAIT!” rant after beating the Patriots in the playoffs last January, it was a cathartic moment for all Jets fans. Bart Scott gets it. He understands what Jets fans have dealt with for the last 40 odd years. He understands our frustration and clearly took it personally when the Jets lost 45-3 to the Pats late in the year and played like he desperately wanted to do something about it. As a fan, it feels so good to see a player on your team play with that kind of attitude.
Another reason to love Bart Scott is that he’s clearly having fun. Just this past Sunday Scott was filmed offering a drink to an overheated referee during the game. It was hilarious and it showed a guy who in addition to playing his heart out clearly enjoys what he is doing. And wouldn’t all of us be that way if we were in his shoes? The guy is living most people’s fantasy and he’s making the most of it and enjoying the hell out of himself. In an era where players are overly careful about their image and leagues penalize players for expressing their joy that is refreshing to see.
But my favorite reason for loving Bart Scott is that he, along with Rex Ryan, reinvented the New York Jets.
Immediately before Rex and Scott came to New York the Jets had become the absolute definition of mediocre. They didn’t stink. They were just kind of there. They would make the playoffs about half the time but they were never a serious or legitimate contender. They certainly didn’t scare anyone or offend anyone. They certainly didn’t dare tell you how good they were.
That’s obviously changed. Thanks to Rex and Bart, the Jets are feared and hated and I love it!
My new favorite Bart Scott moment happened in the second half of this past Sunday’s win over the Jaguars. Bart sacked Luke McCown and when he got up there was no sack celebration. Bart just turned to the Jags’ bench while standing over McCown and gave a dismissive wave. It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful. It was simply Bart saying, “boys, I don’t know why you even bothered making this trip.”
Thanks to Bart and Rex, hopefully a lot of the Jets future opponents will wonder the exact same thing.