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Namath criticizes Ryan's buddy act with Jets players

Even if he does think Matt Snell should've been the Super Bowl III MVP, Rex Ryan isn't going to say a bad word about Joe Namath.

Ryan has a big mouth, but he's not stupid. Until the Jets win another Super Bowl, Namath is the Jets. So if Namath decides he wants to criticize the coach or his team, Ryan must take it.

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Namath's season-long media tour continued this week with a lenghty chat with Newsday. Ryan was the target again, as he has been several times this season.

"I find him hard to believe," Namath said on Thursday. "It's like every player on the Jets is the best player in the league ... I can see patting guys on the back, but I have a hard time believing him. When somebody continues to say, 'To be honest with you' or 'To tell you the truth,' well, then what have you been telling me?"

Namath thinks Ryan has gone too far in his attempt to maintain good relationships with his players, singling out Ryan's kid-gloves handling of Santonio Holmesfollowing a foolish penalty for excessive celebration last Sunday.

"I understand you want your workforce to believe in the leaders and how do the leaders convince them to believe what they say," said Namath. "But great coaches over the years weren't always liked by every individual on the team. Coach Ryan, he's a friend to all of 'em. Well, not every coach is a friend to all of 'em. I think (Giants coach Tom) Coughlin is a hell of a coach, and I don't know that all of his players have loved him over the years. Same with Bill Parcells."

Thanks to his website and Twitter account, Namath's thoughts on the Jets have a higher profile than ever. And while at times it's felt like the 68-year-old Namath has tried too hard to stay in the spotlight, his sentiments about Ryan are shared by other pundits, including's Michael Lombardi, as well as many Jets fans.

It's not often that a person can be both the face of a franchise and the conscience of the fan base. Then again, there aren't many Broadway Joes.

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