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Rex Ryan Tells El-Erian NFL’s ‘New Normal’ Is Labor Confusion

Rex Ryan says the “new normal” in the National Football League includes not knowing what will happen with its labor dispute, and that his New York Jets are ready to deal with that to win the Super Bowl championship.

Ryan, the third-year coach of the Jets, told Mohamed El-Erian, a fan of the Jets who helped coin the “new normal” phrase as chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., that his team is prepared for anything as the NFL opens and closes for business on the decisions of federal courts.

Ryan taped a radio segment yesterday for “Bloomberg Surveillance” hosted by Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt.

“Whenever they say it’s on, then it’s on,” Ryan said at Bloomberg LP’s New York headquarters. “If they say it’s on tomorrow, then I promise you we’ll be ready to go.”

Ryan said coaches are just starting to feel effects of the NFL’s on-again, off-again lockout after last week’s draft of college players. The NFL locked out players in March after talks collapsed over how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenue, the most of any sports league.

Owners last week won a temporary stay of a federal judge’s order blocking the lockout from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Jets selected Temple University tackle Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round of the draft, the last scheduled piece of football business until the labor situation is clarified.

“Up until the draft, it was almost business as usual for a coach because everything you do is just getting ready for that draft,” Ryan said.

Scoring Chances

Now, he said, the Jets are studying their opponents, trying to get a head start on the season. They’re also addressing their weaknesses, particularly how they play offense after reaching scoring position, the area inside the 20-yard line known as the red zone. That requires looking at last season’s games and even hiring outside consultants, such as former Indianapolis Colts assistant Tom Moore.

“We have to get better in the red zone, so we’re really studying that,” Ryan said. “Who are the teams that do it the best? Who defends it the best?”

Ryan said he thinks the labor conflict will be resolved before the season is scheduled to start in September and his team is planning accordingly.

“There are three things I’m sure of,” Ryan said. “The first thing is, owners want there to be football. The second thing is, I’m very sure that the players want to play football. And the third thing is, I’m very sure the fans want to watch football. With those three things, it’s going to be hard for there not to be football.”

Motivate Team

Ryan, the co-author of “Play Like You Mean It” (Doubleday, 280 pages, $26.95) with Don Yeager, said in the radio interview that included El-Erian, who helps oversee the world’s biggest bond fund, that he uses a variety of motivational techniques to keep his team engaged. He urges players to mention two teammates and a coach in every media interview, for example, to help them encourage each other publicly.

El-Erian, who serves as co-chief investment officer with Pimco founder Bill Gross, coined the term “new normal” to describe what he forecasts is an era of prolonged below-average global economic growth and investment returns.

“If you have someone say some kind words about you -- which is very rare in my case -- but when you have that, you feel fantastic,” he said. “As the season goes on and on, we’ll challenge them to mention four teammates, a coach and somebody else in the organization.”

Ryan said he thinks the Jets can win the Super Bowl this season, after reaching the American Football Conference title game for the second consecutive time last season.

“The first year, I said that before his first tenure’s up, we will see President Obama, and the only way to do that is win a championship,” he said. “Well, his first term’s not up.”

Download: New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan Interview

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