FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan insists he’s telling the truth, and people can believe him or not.
That includes his former boss, Brian Billick.
The New York Jets coach reiterated Friday that he knew nothing about the wall of players that was formed on the sideline last Sunday against Miami, during which an assistant coach tripped a Dolphins player.
“The facts are the facts,” Ryan said. “I never knew, so it’s easy to stand up here and tell you that. I’m not a guy that lies about anything. I’m just speaking the truth. If that amazes people, it amazes people.”
Ryan also responded to comments made by Billick, whom he coached for in Baltimore. Billick told ESPN Radio that “of course Rex knew about this.”
“I wish he would have asked me,” Ryan said. “I would have told him the truth. I think he made an assumption there. But he’s wrong.”
Some media and fans have speculated Ryan and other coaches must have known five inactive players were ordered by strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi to stand together nearly shoulder-to-shoulder on the sideline in New York’s 10-6 loss to Miami. Tight end Jeff Cumberland, one of the inactive players, said Alosi has told them to do that all season.
Alosi was first suspended without pay for the season and fined $25,000 for tripping Miami’s Nolan Carroll, before being suspended indefinitely by the team after acknowledging that he ordered the players to form a human wall during a punt return in which he tripped Carroll.
“I wasn’t aware that was going on,” Ryan said, echoing his comments from earlier in the week. “It’s easy for me to stand here and tell you that.”
Ryan’s twin, Rob, Cleveland’s defensive coordinator, defended his brother.
“I know the head coach over there really well,” he said. “He was upset about it. Believe me, Rex would not do that. He loves the game and loves to compete. That was a bad mistake, a bad judgment.”
On Wednesday, general manager Mike Tannenbaum said he met with Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president for football operations, at the owners meetings in Dallas and the league supported the Jets’ decision to increase Alosi’s suspension. Tannenbaum did not rule out the possibility that Alosi will be fired, saying that would be determined soon.
Ryan said he, Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson have met about the situation, but wanted to keep what was discussed private.
The NFL is also investigating the matter, but the team would neither confirm nor deny that the league was at the facility Friday. League spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL had no comment.
Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff has also denied knowing about the wall technique or ordering Alosi to do it, calling it “ridiculous.” He also said Wednesday that other teams do the same thing, including the New England Patriots.
“I’m not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong,” Westhoff said. “Maybe they’re doing something smart. That’s up to you. Watch the tape, you tell me.”
Ryan refused to address whether other teams have had similar formations on their sidelines.
“I’m not going to talk about another team or anybody else,” he said. “I’m just saying, for us, I was not aware that we did that. We found out that it did take place. We were up front about that when we found out about it, and it was a mistake.”
In wake of the incident, the NFL sent a letter to all 32 teams Thursday reminding them of the rules and restrictions for the bench area and sidelines.
“Our team will be way back,” Ryan said. “I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ll be the leaders in that.”
Anderson emphasized the responsibilities placed on each team to appoint a “get-back coach” to ensure that players, coaches and other staff are in compliance with league rules.
The “get-back coach” must be aware of all sideline restrictions and is responsible for ensuring that the team and staff are in compliance. Anderson added that “violations could subject your team and/or individuals to both in-game penalties and other disciplinary action. Flagrant violations after two warnings could result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.”
He said fines and suspensions could be imposed by the league, as well.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio, contributed to this report.