Ed Reed Update: Rex Ryan's "Big Strong Man"
If you watched the sitcom Wings back in the mid-'90s, you probably remember the episode with Big Strong Man.
Big Strong Man
(NOTE: Wings still gets my vote for "most underrated sitcom." If you look, it shared virtually the same chronological footprint as Seinfeld, the duration of the '90s, on the same network. If Seinfeld was Magic Johnson, then Wings was James Worthy, a great complementary show in the NBC lineup that would've stood on its own in a different time or on a different team. There, I said it.)
Big Strong Man was a TV superhero from the childhood days of Lowell Mather, the dopey mechanic who worked at the Nantucket airport where the show took place. In Lowell's childhood years, Big Strong Man was a crime-fighting Adonis. However, when the actor who played Big Strong Man showed up on Nantucket in costume (for a supermarket opening, of all things), he was a fat, out-of-shape dud in his mid-'60s, a drunk, pathetic, borderline homeless mooch.
Well, Big Strong Man spent the entire episode loitering around the airport, and not surprising, the only one of the regulars who would give this decrepit version of Big Strong Man the time of day was Lowell, who still saw him as the superhero from his childhood days and even let Big Strong Man crash on his couch, eat his food and empty his liquor cabinet.
Everyone else on the island saw Big Strong Man for what he was -- a taker, a parasite, a drunk, a broken-down con man. Not Lowell. He worshipped the ground Big Strong Man walked on, unwittingly to his own detriment.
Why am I bringing up an obscure episode of an equally obscure '90s sitcom? Because it's the best analogy I could come up with for New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan's inexplicable hero worship for this dilapidated "Big Strong Man" version of Ed Reed that is bumbling around in his secondary each Sunday.
When Reed was with the Houston Texans earlier this season, he openly blamed the coaching staff (specifically defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) for not putting him in position to make the types of plays that will one day send Reed to Canton. Now, anyone with a brain and a working set of eyeballs could see that Reed's complete lack of impact had everything to do with a diminishing set of skills and a speed gas tank that was on "EMPTY." It had next to nothing to do with the game plan.
After being let go by Houston, Reed claimed he just needed a change of scenery, and Jets head coach Rex Ryan (Reed's former defensive coordinator during a chunk of his Baltimore days and an unabashed Reed lover) agreed. After being dumped by the Texans following the loss at Arizona, Reed was quickly picked up by the Jets and immediately inserted into their starting lineup.
The results have been ugly, to say the least.