"It's rather alarming," Namath said on WEPN-AM's "Michael Kay Show," according to ESPN.com. "It starts at the top. Coach Rex Ryan, he's been doing a great job, getting us to two conference championship games, but there's one thing about the athlete: You keep telling him how good he is, he's going to start believing it to the point that he may not be preparing quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team."
"I think these guys might be believing that they're better than they are," Namath said. "Rex has been the only coach that we know, in maybe the history of the game that I'm familiar with, that keeps continually telling his guys how good they are. And they have been pretty good â pretty good â but they haven't won a championship yet. I think they've got to remember that there's room for improvement."
Ryan bristled at Namath's comments during his Monday news conference.
"I welcome him to come out here and watch our guys prepare," Ryan said. "He'd see a team that, in my opinion, prepares as well as any team I've been around. I disagree with him."
Ryan said he wouldn't rethink the team's approach in light of the criticism.
"I'm not going to change who I am because Joe Namath said something," Ryan said. "Namath can come in here, and if he can still throw, we'll have him as a backup quarterback. But you know what? He doesn't know our team. He's on the outside. Even though he's a Jet, and once you're a Jet, you're always a Jet, but he's on the outside."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.