By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bills head coach Rex Ryan is busy preparing his team to travel to New England on Sunday to take on the Patriots. But he had a free moment Wednesday, which he put to use by going straight to the source of one potential game-plan mystery.
Ryan stopped by the media room at the Bills facility on Wednesday while Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was talking with Buffalo reporters via conference call. Considering the not-quite-100-percent status of both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, Ryan wanted to know if Edelman would be reviving his college quarterback days on Sunday.
“Julian, this is, uhh, Walt Patulski from The Buffalo News,” Ryan started. “Uhh, are you playing quarterback this week?”
Edelman answered succinctly: “Huh?”
Ryan reiterated his question, and Edelman responded as all Patriots do.
“Well, I’m going to do whatever the coaches ask me to do,” he said. “So if they ask me to go out and give a glass of water to someone on the sideline, I’m going to do that with a smile on my face if it helps our team win. So you can ask Coach [Bill Belichick] that one.”
“All right, Julian,” Ryan replied. “I will, buddy.”
Ryan then let out a hearty chuckle and left the room.
Media chuckles, they were aplenty.
In the perspective of real life, it was a harmless, light-hearted moment. Nobody was injured. No secrets were revealed.
Yet in the strange, strange world that is the NFL, Ryan might have run afoul of some rules. Typically, opposing head coaches aren’t allowed to directly contact players on other teams, especially relating to strategy for a game that’s just four days away. And doing so while impersonating a reporter — albeit in a joking fashion — might get Ryan into some trouble of some sort with the league.
A legitimate reporter could have just as easily been the person asking that same exact question. At the same time, a reporter did not. The opposing head coach asked the question. Whether there’s punishment of any sort will now come down to the not-exactly-consistent NFL office in New York.
It’s not really tampering, per se, but it certainly seems a bit outside of the norm for a head coach’s behavior. But then again, isn’t that exactly why teams hire Rex in the first place?