Sep/25/12 08:13 AM Filed in: Dedrick Epps
Say this for Rex Ryan: The Jets coach has a flair for the dramatic.
Two years ago, when Jason Taylor helped the Jets beat the Dolphins, Ryan was among those dumping the Gatorade jug on the ex-Dolphin.
Sunday, after Tony Sparano's offensive calls helped the Jets to a 23-20 overtime win over the team that fired him a little over nine months ago, Ryan gave the floor to his former coaching rival in the winning locker room.
"He came in here and said it was a team thing," said Jets backup tight end Dedrick Epps, the ex-UM standout who played for Sparano with the Dolphins. "It wasn’t just him. It wasn’t just the offense, It was the special teams, the defense, the coaches. It took everybody to get this done."
While Ryan himself brushed aside suggestions of this being a special win for Sparano -- "I think Tony's a Jet. He's happy to get the victory for the team, not just himself," Ryan said -- another ex-Dolphin didn't even try to hide that aspect of the afternoon.
"I’m sure he went through a lot more [emotions] than I did," said former Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell, who had seven tackles. "I don’t think he was too happy abaout the way he was done here. To get some revenge I’m sure was sweet for him."
More emotional than for Bell, who had spent his entire career with the Dolphins before being cut loose last offseason? The former winner of team awards for courage, leadership and cooperation with the South Florida media nodded and said that was definitely the case.
"I’m real happy for him," Bell said. "I know he wanted this one. I know it’s big for him. Just for him to come back and kind of get some revenge for the way they treated him and things, I know he’s happy."
Bell said he hadn't spoken privately to Sparano yet, but planned to talk with him on the way back to New York.
"I’m sure I’ll see him on the plane and we’ll chat it up a little bit," Bell said.
Bell was among the Jets' pregame captains, along with Epps and another Dolphin castoff, receiver Clyde Gates. More proof of Ryan's sense of drama.
Sparano refused comment as he left the Jets locker room after Sunday's win, but Epps said that probably was for the best as well.
"He might get a little choked up in one of his interviews," Epps said. "It might bring a tear to his eye."
And what did Epps say to Sparano after this one?
"Congratulations, coach," Epps said. "Good job."
On this emotional Sunday, at least, there was no denying that.